In order to improve the quality, capacity and safety of roads in Andhra Pradesh, the World Bank has approved a $320 million loan for road projects in the state.

The Andhra Pradesh Road Sector Project is designed to upgrade about 429 km of priority state highways and finance long—term maintenance of over 6,000 km of the state’s core road network, the World Bank said in a statement.

“Improvements in road transport are vital to catalyze agricultural and industrial development and improve access to markets, jobs, and services to the people of Andhra Pradesh, especially its poor people,” World Bank Country Director for India, Roberto Zagha said.

“This project will help to remove the infrastructure bottlenecks in the state, which is considered a major constraint to sustain the state’s impressive economic growth in recent years,” he said in a statement.

The project will not only help strengthen the Andhra Government’s ability to leverage its own resources with private sector financing for road infrastructure, it would also help the state attract private sector participation in financing, development, and management of selected high traffic density corridors.

It will also support measures to reduce road accidents, including ‘demonstration projects’ on selected corridors, the Bank said.

Noting that road safety remains a huge problem in Andhra Pradesh with an average of 36 people killed on the state roads every day in 2007, Binyam Reja, World Bank project team leader, said, “Hence, road safety is a very important component of this project. Key to this is to improve coordination between the multiple agencies that are developing and enforcing road safety regulations.”

The loan is from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and has a maturity of 30 years, including a grace period of 5.5 years.

The World Bank said road transport is vital to Andhra Pradesh’s economy, accounting for more than 80 percent of freight and passenger traffic.

Recognising that an efficient transport system is critical for agricultural and industrial growth, the State Government has invested heavily to improve its transport infrastructure, it said.

For example, double lane roads on state highways have increased from 52 percent to 68 percent over the past six years. However, lack of roads maintenance and deteriorating road safety require urgent actions, the World Bank noted.