Bangladesh is set to receive a $404m loan from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to improve intercity travel and cross-border connectivity in the country.

The loan amount will be used to upgrade the country’s national highway N2 between Sylhet and the Tamabil border crossing.

The upgrade is aimed at improving the safety of commuters and reducing travel times for road users, including freight vehicles and buses.

AIIB is providing funding for the construction, operation and maintenance of roads. In addition, it will offer institutional and project management support.

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As part of the project, the national highway N2 will be upgraded from a two-lane single carriageway to a four-lane dual carriageway highway.

The project will include traffic engineering works, tolling facilities and the installation of traffic management equipment.

Traffic surveillance, roadside service facilities, tolling and communication systems will also be upgraded.

The 56.16km Sylhet-Tamabil road is a part of the Dhaka-Narsingdi-Sylhet-Tamabil National Highway corridor with a total length of 286km.

The strategic location of the corridor is of significant importance for subregional connectivity. It connects the seven northeastern states of India, Bhutan, Myanmar and China.

AIIB Investment Operations vice-president D J Pandian said: “As the first stand-alone transport project supported by AIIB in Bangladesh, the project will allow the Bank to gain experience in cross-border connectivity in South Asia.

“At the same time, the project will allow the country to improve sustainability and potentially attract private sector participation and community involvement in road maintenance.”

In 2018, AIIB’s Special Fund had provided a $813,000 non-reimbursable grant to Bangladesh supporting the preparation of the project.