ISLAMABAD - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Pakistan on Wednesday signed a $140million loan agreement to improve the provincial roads in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).

The loan agreement was signed by ADB Country Director for Pakistan Xiaohong Yang and Economic Affairs Division (EAD) Secretary Syed Ghazanfar Abbas Jilani in Islamabad.

Communication and Works Department Secretary Shahab Khattak and Pakhtunkhwa Highway Authority Managing Director Ahmed Nabi Sultan signed the project agreement on behalf of the government of KP.

"The project signed here is a continuation of ADB support for upgrading Pakistan's vital infrastructure to stimulate economic growth and job creation." said Ms Yang.

"ADB continues to look forward to work very closely with federal and provincial governments to accelerate economic development by -among others- developing road for improving mobility and connectivity."

The overall cost of the project is around $164million, which the government of Pakistan would contribute only $24million and rest would be obtained as loan from the ADB.

The KP Provincial Roads Improvement Project will rehabilitate eight key road sections with total length of 214 kilometres with a higher road safety and climate resilience standard to ensure for uninterrupted flows of people and goods within the province, across the country and beyond.

Pakhtunkhwa Highways Authority (PKHA) intends to rehabilitate a part of its provincial highway network under this project to improve the performance of its roads and achieve a higher service level in the province.

With the rehabilitation of these roads, the overall maintenance cost will reduce significantly.

Due to the proposed interventions, these 214 Kms of roads will require only periodic maintenance after 5-6 years and resultantly the maintenance burden on PKHA will be reduced in the forthcoming years.

The rehabilitation of these candidate roads, in accordance with the proposed program, will not only enhance their capacities but will also result in improved service delivery.

The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2022. This is for the first time that the provincial road project will implement two pilot performance-based maintenance contracts covering about 104 km of the roads.

Under the contracts for maintenance and operations of the road assets the role of a contractor is changed from a project executor to a road asset manager. This will strengthen the role of the provincial highways department.

Speaking on the occasion, Syed Ghazanfar Abbas Jilani appreciated the ADB's support for improving infrastructure and urban services in Pakistan.

He reiterated that the government of Pakistan is committed to improving regional connectivity by improving physical infrastructure and economic activities.

The provincial roads of KP will complement towards enhanced economic mobility of China Pakistan Economic Corridor as well as Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Corridor, he added.