|Asian Development Bank resident representative Shane Rosenthal and deputy director general |
of the Pacific department Noriko Ogawa at the media conference in the new
Resident Mission in Timor-Leste. Photo: David Robie/PMC
Timor-Leste currently has plans for about 600 km of road reconstruction - almost half of the national grid - at a cost of around US$1 a kilometre.
It is planned to have a national network of "reliable, safe" roads that are also "climate change proof", ADB officials told local media.
The latest loan agreement signed by ADB's deputy director-general of the Pacific department, Noriko Ogawa, and Finance Minister Emilia Pires covers a 117km stretch across the rugged interior between Manatuto and Natarbora.
Many roads in Timor-Leste, especially in remote areas and also between the capital Dili and some main towns, are currently risky and prone to erosion and flooding.
According to the World Health Organisation, an estimated 190 people a year die in road accidents.
The government displays a large billboard in the heart of Dili updating death and injury statistics.
The latest ADB loan is for a particularly treacherous stretch of road that will improve transport and communications across the mountains between the north and south of the country.
"This project ... will boost linkages to and from the south coast, promoting economic development and creating better access to health, education and other essential services," said Ogawa.
The six-year Timor-Leste Road Network Upgrading Sector Project also includes preparing detailed designs for a further 169 km of national roads, and is backed up with road safety awareness training and an HIV/AIDS prevention programme.
According to an ADB statement, about 80 percent of the labour needed for the project will be recruited locally and almost a third will be women.
Long-term maintenance and "climate resilience" - not specified - strategies have been included in the project.
Already ADB has supported the country's best modern road, a rehabilitated stretch between Liquica and Maubara, centre for an eco-tourism development, in the west of the country on the highway to he Indonesian border.
The ADB is coordinating with the World Bank Group and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in support of Timor-Leste's national road reconstruction.
Signing of the contract coincided with the opening of ADB's new resident mission in Dili and resident representative Shane Rosenthal pledged regular media briefings to keep local journalists informed about ADB developments.