ISLAMABAD: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has forewarned the federal government that the $268 million investment for making roads in Balochistan may go to waste, as the sustainability of the scheme is at risk, due to inadequate budget for maintenance.
Overloaded trucks have already damaged sections of the provincial road that was built in mid-2011, ADB said in its completion report on Balochistan road sector development project.
The Manila-based lending agency rated the project “less likely to be sustainable” due to lack of an adequate budget for road maintenance, threatening the project.
The implementation of project has already been affected due to lack of resources, compelling the authorities to reduce the scope of the project by over 60%, according the report.
The ADB noted that according to National Highway Authority estimates, about 27% shortfall was estimated in the road maintenance requirement for the last fiscal year. Many sections of the provincial highways in the project area were damaged by landslides, floods, and heavy traffic but they were not timely repaired, the ADB said.
The report added that vehicle overloading has become a perennial issue in Pakistan and this is also threatening the sustainability of
the project. The provincial road (Sajavi–Duki section) under the project was 93% complete in mid-2011, but has been badly damaged by overloaded trucks.
Interestingly, despite significant reduction in the scope of the work the project was rated efficient by the ADB. The total length of provincial highways and rural roads was reduced from 1,100 kilometers, anticipated at appraisal stage, to just 426 kilometers, said the ADB. It attributed budget shortfall caused by unexpected high inflation and sharp increases in the prices of construction materials as one of the main reasons, besides security concerns.
The ADB said the project experienced substantial delays due to security conditions, which led ADB to close the loan before completion of all the components. Changes were also made in the design of the project to avoid passing the roads from sensitive areas.
The total project cost was estimated at $267.3 million and the ADB’s share was roughly 70% but during the implementation, the ADB loan was not fully used, increasing the share of government financing to 46.7% in the revised
Published in The Express Tribune, June 28th, 2012.
More in BalochistanPart 1 — PEW Report: Anti-American sentiment rife in Pakistan