The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) has approved a $167.2m loan to fund Uzbekistan’s road construction programme.

The loan will be spent on upgrading and reconstructing the M39 highway in the country’s southernmost region of Surkhandarya, and will be used to purchase equipment and to finance the works.

The national highway will be extended with 62 miles of four-lane cement-concrete surface, while three lengths of the M39 that link Bukhara, Karshi, Guzar and Termez cities will be widened and upgraded from its current two-lane asphalt surface.

The work comes under the government’s $2.6bn national road network improvement programme, initiated in May last year for a newly constructed 930 miles of road.

The complete plan involves construction of 249 miles of new four-lane highways, 505 miles of four-lane asphalt roads, and 179 miles of two-lane asphalt roads.

The road network will also be upgraded with seven major road junctions and 924 miles of underpasses and bridges.

The five-year government project will be complete by 2014.