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ISLAMABAD: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) signed two loan agreements totalling $453 million on Tuesday with Pakistan for important development projects in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh.

Under the agreement, a bus rapid transit (BRT) system will be developed in Peshawar while investment in Sindh infrastructure will be increased.

ADB Country Director Xiaohong Yang and Secretary Economic Affairs Division Shahid Mahmood signed the agreements. KP Secretary for Transport and Mass Transit Dawood Khan and Sindh’s Finance Secretary, Hasan Naqvi signed the agreements on behalf of their provincial governments. Finance Minister Ishaq Dar was present on the occasion.

For the BRT system in Peshawar, the ADB will provide a loan of $335m while $100m will go towards improving and strengthening the standards in development and delivery of public-private partnership (PPP) projects and increasing investment in infrastructure and services in Sindh.

“Peshawar is a centre of trade and commerce for the province. The city’s booming population has been causing tremendous traffic congestion and pressure on its public transport infrastructure and basic urban services negatively impacting its economic growth,” said Ms Yang.

Approves $335m for Peshawar BRT and $100m for Sindh’s infrastructure

The Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and the European Investment Bank are also expected to co-finance the project.

The Peshawar BRT corridor will span 26km from Chamkani to Hayatabad, mainly at-grade of the GT Road, with a 6km elevated section in the city’s centre and tunnel/trench section at its junctions to ensure its segregation.

The system will include 32 stations. The entire corridor will be restructured along the new BRT infrastructure, including upgraded mixed traffic lanes, sidewalks, streetlights and drainage.

Bicycle parking will also be provided on pilot basis at BRT stations to allow commuters to use bicycles as their first or last mile connectivity to the BRT. The Peshawar BRT project is a transformational venture for the city that will lead to urban renewal on a wide scale.

The $100m loan for Sindh will help establish a PPP Support Facility (PSF), a not-for-profit company with private sector-led management, to manage government support for PPPs in a fiscally responsible manner.

The support will be mainly provided to PPPs through viability gap funding for mobilising private sector investments in infrastructure, including social services.

The project will help strengthen Sindh government’s capacity to identify, develop, and implement projects with the private sector participation, bringing innovation, efficiency and overall value-for-money.

“The project will build on ADB’s previous partnership with the government of Sindh to strengthen the PPP framework and will draw from national and international best practices to support the provincial government’s policies for fast-track provision of sustainable infrastructure,” said Ms.Yang.

“After the successful completion of this project, ADB aims to continue supporting the PPP initiative in the province by replicating this model in the future to encourage a stream of PPP projects across various sectors.”

The British government, through DFID is co-financing the project through a $19.23m, and $4.75m technical assistance, both of which will be administered by ADB. The total cost of the project is $188.98m, with the Sindh government contributing $65m. The expected completion time of the project is mid-2022.

Sindh, is Pakistan’s second most populous and most urbanised province, with about 52 per cent of its people living in cities. Providing the crucial sea-port access and key industrial and business hubs, Sindh generates 32 per cent of the country’s GDP.

Published in Dawn, September 13th, 2017