The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has provided a US$168mn loan to boost trade transport links in Bangladesh.

An additional US$60mn in loans will be provided by Abu Dhabi Fund (US$30mn) and Opec Fund for International Development (Ofid, US$30mn).

The ADB loan will have a 32-year term, including a grace period of eight years, with an interest rate of 1% per year during the grace period and 1.5% thereafter.

The project will see the country’s second busiest arterial route, the Dhaka-Northwest international trade corridor, upgraded. A spokesperson from the ADB tells GTR: “By 2016, the average travel time along the road will be reduced by 40% and waiting time for crossing the border will be reduced by 10 hours from 2012’s baseline time of 6.5 days.”

The route will be expanded from two lanes to four, which will ease the bottlenecks and improve road safety for the seven million people living in the area.

Land ports at Benapole and Burimari, which handle the bulk of goods transported between Bangladesh and India, will also be upgraded, a move that will boost trade volumes, improve traffic flows and reduce the loss of perishable goods.

The ADB hopes that it will boost domestic, regional and international trade. It estimates that the upgrade will support the movement of about 18 million tonnes of freight from Bhutan, India and Nepal.

Juan Miranda, director general of the ADB’s South Asia department, says: “Upgrading this important section of the Dhaka-Chittagong-Northwest transport corridor will give a big lift to both domestic and sub-regional trade, as well as encouraging more domestic and foreign investment.”