The World Bank has allocated $500m for road improvement work along the Jashore-Jhenaidah corridor in western Bangladesh.

The international financial institution is supporting a $1.4bn programme to convert the 110km two-lane road, Bhomra-Satkhira-Navaron and Jahore-Jhenaidah, to a four-lane highway.

The reconstructed highway will also feature additional lanes for slow-moving vehicles and a median safety barrier.

In the first phase, a 48km section of the N7 highway between Jashore and Jhenaidah will be upgraded. Rehabilitation of around 600km of rural roads and 32 rural markets / growth centres are also part of the work package.

In addition, fibre optic cables will be installed along the highway to provide internet access. The move will help businesses, as well as expedite response times during crises.

Overall, the project is aligned with the government’s plan of creating a 260km economic corridor in the western part of the country to benefit more than 20 million people.

World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh and Bhutan Mercy Tembon said: “The western region of Bangladesh is endowed with many agricultural and natural produce and holds great potential of becoming a gateway for regional and international trade.

“This project will unlock the region’s potential by stimulating the economy of districts, linking farms to markets, connecting Dhaka with the western region, as well as with neighbouring countries, thus enhancing trade, transit and logistics along the corridor.”

Notably, Bangladesh secured a $100m loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) earlier this month to carry out rural road works. The funding will help to expand an ongoing rural road network improvement project.