World Bank loan to ease traffic congestion in Beirut
The World Bank last week approved a $65 million loan that will support the government of Lebanon’s efforts to boost the efficiency of the urban transport system. The Urban Transport Development Project (UTDP) aims to build institutions needed to address the diverse transport issues the city faces and support high priority investments recommended by the government’s plan of action for the sector.
As a consequence of the long conflict that engulfed the city from the mid-1970s through the early 1990s, and the resulting destruction of both physical and institutional infrastructure, Beirut is faced with the challenge of rebuilding its urban transport system. The country also witnessed a change in demography over the last two decades due to urbanization, displacement of residents in the south and relocation of businesses from the city center to the coastline.
Consequently, Beirut today suffers from severe traffic congestion and deteriorating air quality. The problem of congestion is exacerbated by heavy reliance on private cars with approximately 250 cars per 1000 inhabitants.
The first in a series of projects to help Beirut meet the challenges of urban transport, the UTDP will specifically seek to improve traffic management by establishing an autonomous metropolitan agency that will monitor and control traffic operations, and installing traffic signals at major intersections in the Greater Beirut Area.
Another component of the project will help regulate and control on-street parking in selected zones by introducing parking management measures, parking meters and enforcing appropriate regulations. Traffic congestion will also be alleviated by the construction of underpasses and bridges in busy intersections along seven main corridors entering Beirut.
In addition, the UTDP will engage various stakeholders in developing an urban transport development strategy aimed at efficient and sustainable public transport system, effective transport planning and enhanced air quality.
Support for the UTDP falls in line with the World Bank’s country assistance strategy for Lebanon whose key objectives include rehabilitation and expansion of infrastructure and institutional development. The project will ultimately serve the 1.2 million residents of the Greater Beirut Area—nearly one-third of the country’s population—by reducing traffic congestion and improving mobility, particularly of the urban poor and women workers.
The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), an arm of the World Bank Group, which provides loans and technical assistance to middle-income countries, will issue the loan on a fixed spread basis with a seven-year grace period and a maturity of 13 years. The Government of Lebanon will contribute $32 million to the project. — (menareport.com)
© 2002 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)
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