V. Sajeev Kumar

Kochi, Jan. 19

THE Kerala State Transport Project, the World Bank aided project aimed at improving traffic flow and road safety on the State's primary road network, is all set to begin the second phase consisting of the upgrading of 327 km of high priority State highways.

The World Bank agreed to provide further financial assistance of $120 million as per the additional estimate of the project and the works is expected to begin next month.

The Kerala State Transport Project costing $336 million, of which, World Bank is financing to the tune of $225 million and a State contribution of $79 million, proposed to strengthen the institutional and financial capacity of Kerala's key transport sector agencies. The road stretches being upgraded under the second phase included Pilathara-Papinissery (21 km), Kasargode-Kanhangad (28 km), Thalassery-Valavupara (53.4 km), Iritty-Thaliparamba (4 km), Punalur-Ranni (51.5 km), Poovaranny-Thodupuzha (36.6 km) and so on.

These roads will be improved to international standards once the project is completed. The upgrading works under the first phase, which had commenced in 2003, will be completed by March this year. Moreover, maintenance works on a stretch of another 300 km of road are to be completed in the next three years.

The objective of the project is to improve the capacity and quality of highly congested State highways and major district roads. The improvement in road conditions in the State will reduce road accidents by up to 30 per cent and fatalities along project roads and also enable implementation of reforms in the road sector to bring greater private sector participation.

The project consists of four main components.

The transport corridor improvement component will support upgrading of State highways, including rehabilitating inland water transport feeder canals. The road maintenance component will provide periodic maintenance of State highways and major district roads.

The road safety improvement component comprises consultant services for black spot identification; programming and designing minor improvement works for State roads, minor mitigation measures. The institutional development and technical assistance component will provide services to implement the institutional strengthening action plan by appointing consultants in the areas of maintenance management and data collection and developing a road management system.

The roads to be improved will pass through 405 villages of 14 districts. It will improve access to schools and health centres and enhance economic and social benefits for better access and enhanced mobility.

The roads to be upgraded have been selected based on the consideration of traffic congestion, expected economic returns, network connectivity and links to expected economic development.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated January 20, 2006)
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