ISLAMABAD - Pakistan and Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Friday signed two agreements worth $310 million for helping to develop a bus rapid transit (BRT) system in Karachi and for the Sindh Secondary Education Improvement Project.

The ADB and the government of Pakistan signed the loan agreement for a $235 million loan initially approved by the bank on 5 July 2019, to help develop a bus rapid transit (BRT) system in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city. Meanwhile, ADB and the government of Pakistan also signed the agreement for a $75 million loan for the Sindh Secondary Education Improvement Project, approved by ADB on 25 October 2019.

Secretary of the Economic Affairs Division Noor Ahmed and ADB Country Director Xiaohong Yang signed the agreement on the loan which will help to deliver the 26.6 kilometer Bus Rapid Transit Line Red Line corridor and feature innovative energy and climate resilience characteristics that will enhance access to quality public transport for the city’s inhabitants. The signing was witnessed by Pakistan’s Minister for Economic Affairs, Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar.

“The loan signed today will enable a safe, reliable and environmentally friendly mode of transport in Pakistan’s most populous city,” said Ms. Yang. “On behalf of ADB, I am pleased to sign this agreement and would like to thank the Government of Sindh for the strong collaboration and continued support in recent years during the preparation of this complex project. The BRT will make a significant difference to the commuting experience in Karachi, ease congestion and improve the overall quality of life for people in the city.” The project, developed in partnership with the Transport and Mass-Transit Department of the Sindh Government, is now all set for fast-track implementation with the start of procurement activities for civil works and the on-going recruitment of the Project Management and Construction Supervision team. The Project will restructure the entire width of the Red Line BRT corridor, including the construction of 29 stations and dedicated lanes along the 26.6 km stretch; improvement of the mixed-traffic roadway with up to six lanes in each direction; inclusion of on-street parking and landscaped green areas in various locations; improvement of the drainage system to climate-proof the corridor; and installation of bicycle lanes, improved sidewalks, and energy-efficient street lights.

In addition, ADB will also administer a $100 million loan from the Asian Infratsucture Investment Bank (AIIB), a $100 million loan from Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD), a $37.2 million loan and a $49 million grant from the Green Climate Fund (GCF), which will finance climate change adaptation and mitigation measures, such as the incremental cost of the transition from basic diesel bus technology to compressed natural gas (CNG) hybrid bus technology, and the construction of a biogas plant to produce CNG from cattle waste. The project, which is expected to save 240,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year, is the first transport-related initiative ever approved by GCF.

The ADB and the government of Pakistan signed the agreement for a $75 million loan for the Sindh Secondary Education Improvement Project, approved by ADB on 25 October, 2019. The project is being financed through ADBs Concessional Ordinary Capital Resources, which is offered at very low interest rates. This signifies ADBs strong commitment to reengage with Pakistan in the sector. There are a number of additional education projects planned over the next three years, including in the TVET sector. Secretary of the Economic Affairs Division Noor Ahmed and ADB Country Director Xiaohong Yang signed the loan agreement which will help improve education outcomes and the quality, accessibility, and gender equity of the secondary education system and infrastructure in Sindh.

“Education is critical to Pakistan’s continued development and ADB is committed to supporting Pakistan as it moves towards more equitable and inclusive education,” said Ms. Yang. “I am pleased to sign this loan agreement for this project which will help to address the significant gender and regional disparities in the province of Sindh.”

The project will construct around 160 secondary school blocks on existing public school sites in some of the most deprived districts of southern Sindh. By focusing on access to education for girls, the project will help to bridge the gender and regional gaps in the province. The new blocks will feature gender-segregated sanitation facilities and prayer rooms, and be fitted with solar power.

The project will train teachers through an innovative classroom-based training and mentoring program and help to improve the transparency and content of the province’s public examination system. A key outcome in the project is for the newly built secondary school blocks to be managed by private sector operators—unlocking critical quality improvements, efficiencies, and value for money for the Government of Sindh.