World Bank Continues Support to Georgia’s East-West Highway Improvement Project

From the Editorial

WASHINGTON, November 10, 2009 – The World Bank Board of Executive Directors today approved a US$ 28 million IBRD loan for the Additional Financing of the First East-West Highway Improvement Project (FEWHIP AF) for Georgia.

The original FEWHIP, approved in 2006, upgraded a 13 km section of the East-West Highway from Agaiani to Igoeti. The Additional Financing will support rehabilitation of the Rikoti Tunnel, repair of its 4,2 km by-pass road, and help to strengthen institutions.
The project will contribute to the gradual reduction of road transport costs and improve access, ease of transit, and safety along the central part of Georgia’s East-West corridor. It will also strengthen the capacity of the government, the Roads Department, and the local road construction industry to plan and better manage the road network.
“Since 2006 the Bank has been financing the rehabilitation of the East-West Highway. This program is further strengthening Georgia’s competitiveness and its transit potential,” said Asad Alam, Regional Director for the South Caucasus.
“The Rikoti Tunnel, which is now in a very poor condition, represents a critical link on the East-West Highway, because it provides the only all-weather route for goods and passenger traffic,” said Elizabeth Wang, Task Team Leader for the project.
The project is part of the new Country Partnership Strategy for Georgia (CPS), which provides the framework guiding the World Bank Group’s assistance to Georgia for 2009-2012. Under this strategy, new initiatives will support investments in transport infrastructure. These new investments will focus mostly on road improvements to help reduce transport costs, improve internal connectivity, and strengthen Georgia’s role as a transport corridor within the South Caucasus. Roads investments will also help create much needed temporary jobs and, over time, will boost competitiveness, growth, and job creation prospects.
The World Bank Board of Directors discussed the new CPS for Georgia in September 2009. It provides for new lending of $396 million over fiscal years 2010-2013, focusing on supporting both immediate needs relating to the current global economic downturn and on improving Georgia’s competitiveness. It also includes a strong program of knowledge services.
Since the inception of its program in Georgia in 1995, the World Bank has financed 48 projects with total commitments up to $1.37 billion. The current
portfolio consists of 12 active projects with
commitments of $442.3 million.