World Bank has approved a funding of $450m to boost road infrastructure in Nepal and help the country revive its economy post-Covid-19 pandemic.

This is said to be the single largest value project the World Bank has signed with the Government of Nepal.

The agreement, signed by the Nepal finance secretary Sishir Dhunganaand the World Bank Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka country director Faris Hadad-Zervos, will fund the Strategic Road Connectivity and Trade Improvement Project.

The project is aimed at improving Nepal’s road connectivity with neighbouring nations, including India.

It will improve the Nagdhunga-Naubise-Mugling road and upgrade the Kamala-Dhalkebar-Pathlaiya road to four lanes.

This project is considered to be critical for the country’s recovery and resilience from the Covid-19 pandemic by enabling trade facilitation and uplifting economic possibilities.

During the pandemic, the project is expected to support improved screening of goods and people at border facilities.

It will also help develop guidance for special working arrangements, including safe distancing and remote working.

Nepal finance minister Dr Yuba Khatiwada said: “Connectivity is high on the rapid and sustainable development agenda of Nepal. Sustainable transport and sustainable, inclusive and high-quality infrastructure are of cross cutting importance for accelerating economic growth, national and regional economic integration and attaining the sustainable development goals.”

In addition, the project is expected to strengthen the National Road Safety Council and the Department of Roads, and facilitate periodic maintenance of high-traffic roads within the Strategic Road Network.

It also includes a contingency emergency response component to reallocate project funds to support emergency response and recovery.

Commenting on the development, Hadad-Zervos said: “This project supports the government’s efforts to put Nepal on the path to economic recovery amid the impacts of the Covid-19 crisis. It will help facilitate regional trade and connectivity and create jobs while ensuring safety and efficiency of the strategic roads network.”