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ISLAMABAD: The Sindh government has submitted an ‘aide-memoire’ to the Asian Development Bank (ADB) with financing of Rs31 billion for a city-to-city road improvement project involving construction of 556km of roads and bridges throughout the province.

Submitted through the federal government, the project involves provision of overhead bridges on 35 busy railway crossings; construction of Ghotki-Kandhkot bridge in district Ghotki and Kashmore; dualisation of road from Jacobabad to Kandhkot via Thul; widening and reconditioning of road from Kotdiji to Sanghar via Sorah Tajal and Jamrao head in districts Khairpur and Sanghar; widening and reconditioning of Hala to Sanghar via Shahdadpur and Jhol in districts Matiari and Sanghar; widening and reconstruction of Ubaro-Guddu-Kashmore Road in districts Ghotki and Kashmore; widening and reconditioning of Datu-Moro-Bandhi road in district Dadu, Naushere-Feroze and Shaheed Benazirabad; widening and reconstruction of Gharo-Keti Bunder road in district Thatta; and construction of Hyderabad Southern Bypass bridge on Indus river.

Sharing details of the aide-memoire with a group of Islamabad-based journalists, Secretary of Sindh Works and Services Department, Qazi Shahid Pervez said that “our city-to-city roads are in bad shape, and it is not possible for the Sindh government to allocate financing of the massive investment plan from its annual development programme.”

The Sindh government’s relations with ADB are progressing in a satisfied manner, and at the same time the bank is also in a ‘willingness mode’ to assist the provincial government in its development projects, Mr Pervez maintained.

The secretary disclosed that ADB has agreed to provide $200 million for the Sindh road improvement project which involves construction of 398km roads between Tando Mohammad Khan and Badin; Mirwah and Naukot; Khyber and Sanghar; Sanghar and Mirpur Khas; Jacobabad and Ratodero; and Khandkot and Jacobabad.

Initially, the ADB had agreed to provide $100m but later informed the Sindh government that it would provide $200m for the project. The assistance is to be provided under the 2015-2019 country partnership strategy. Next year, the bank will release $200m and has assured to take up our increased appetite for funds to complete the remaining projects over the next three to five years, Mr Pervez explained.

Mr Pervez disclosed that the Punjab government had also submitted its project to ADB along with Sindh, but ADB decided the project in favour of Sindh finding three elements: our willingness; potential to absorb our investment; and readiness on check and balance.

About the project, he said it is in final stage of evaluation. Consultant’s report is being finalised while ADB is preparing technical report before the project being approved by the ADB board.

According to the secretary, all the six road sector projects will be on the basis of public-private partnership strategy as ADB wants this mode in all future projects.

About the link of Sindh with the economic corridor, Qazi Pervez stated that whatever corridor is built in Sindh, it would be vertical as the Sindh map shows upper part narrow and lower part wide. Sindh already has two vertical highways: national highway on the left bank of Indus and the Indus highway (N-55) on right bank of Indus river.

However, he said the province now needs horizontal connectivity to connect its districts and people with the national highway grids. “Our strategy is now focused on horizontal connectivity,” he said.

“Our second strategy is to connect coast with the country, for which we need parallel vertical connectivity. The Mehran Highway connecting with Ranipur will serve as an alternative highway connecting the National Highway.

The Sindh government has allocated Rs1,260m for the project. The construction of two bridges has been prioritised, and it is expected that the Mehran Highway will be completed by June 2015, he said.

Questioned about road network with Thar coal reserves, he said that the vertical road map and the Sindh government plan will link Thar coal with National Highway through a vertical connectivity road.

Moreover, we also plan to link Thar coal with the coast for which the government would require ADB assistance, he said.

Published in Dawn, November 16th, 2014