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The African Development Bank (ADB) has approved a loan of R373.68mn to finance the Mbabane Bypass Road Project (Two International Roads Project – Phase 2) in Swaziland.

The Mbabane bypass (11km) is a section of the previous Manzini-Mbabane-Ngwenya two-lane road. The Phase 1 of the project that covered 14.3km from border town of Ngwenya was completed in June 2003. There is a need to upgrade the whole road from Manzini to Ngwenya to a dual carriageway so as to eliminate transportation bottlenecks and to provide an efficient and cost effective transport system for both national and international traffic.

The project comprises the following components: a) upgrading 5km of existing two-lane paved road and construction of 6km bypass road to 50mm thick asphalt concrete dual carriageway (2 x 7m lanes per direction) and 2m wide paved shoulder on each side of the bypass road; b) consultant services for the supervision of the civil works; and c) project audit services.

The project is in line with the bank’s strategy and the government’s transport policy to improve accessibility to industrial and agricultural settings and also to construct international roads thereby promoting regional integration and trade. It will assist a proportion of the population through increased access to markets and basic social services at lower costs, facilitate and improve traffic movements, reduce vehicle operating and maintenance costs, and introduce opportunities for economic growth. Besides its impact on poverty reduction, the road will also have an important regional significance as it promotes long-term collective, self-sustaining and integrated social, cultural and economic development with Swaziland’s two neighbouring countries of Mozambique and South Africa. The implementation of the project will equally fit into the agenda of The New Partnership for Africa Development (Nepad) that encourages the development of regional corridors.

The ADB will provide 100% of the foreign exchange requirements for the project amounting to a total of R373.68mn equivalent to UA37.19mn. The ADB loan will meet part of the cost of the civil works and supervision as well as the entire project audit services.

Bank group operations in Swaziland started in 1975. To date, total commitments amount to UA225.48mn, equivalent to US$324.60mn. About 74% of this amount has already been disbursed.