A380 highway, the main route between northwestern and southeastern Uzbekistan, is a regionally important road. Prior to the program, the condition of its pavement had deteriorated because of deferred maintenance and traffic increase. The government of Uzbekistan prioritized improving the road under its National Road Development Program for 2009–2014, in support of which, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) approved in April 2010 a multitranche financing facility (MFF) of up to $600 million for the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Corridor 2 Road Investment Program.
The program was aligned with CAREC’s strategy at the time to develop six transport corridors that would enhance regional connectivity and efficiency and reduce transport costs. Comprised of three projects, it aimed to contribute to sustainable economic development, as impact; and achieve better connectivity and an efficient transport system along the Uzbekistan section of CAREC corridor 2, as outcome. It planned to attain its intended impact and outcome through the delivery of three outputs: (i) approximately 222 kilometers (km) of the existing two-lane highway upgraded to a four-lane dual carriageway Category 1 international standard, (ii) cross-border facilities improved and operational, and (iii) a road sector sustainability strategy and related plans adopted by the government’s Republican Road Fund (RRF).
At completion, the program achieved most of its planned outputs. About 175 km of the 1,200-km long A380 highway were upgraded. Works on a 47 km road section that required major alignment and hence an in-depth study into the alignment options and substantial land acquisition and resettlement were not pushed through. The reduction did not affect the attainment of the investment program objectives.
A scanner, which reduced cross-border customs processing time from 2 hours to 20 minutes per truck, was installed at the Daut-ata border facility. The road asset management system was expanded. An independent quality control system for road works was established and a public-private partnership framework for the road sector was developed. Technical guidance documents for pavement testing, bridge management, and routine maintenance were prepared and adopted by the Uzavtoyul, the country’s national road agency. A pile boring equipment was provided to increase the bridge-building efficiency of the country’s road sector.
RRF capacity building was supported and so was the implementation of a gender action plan (GAP) to promote gender-sensitive provision and utilization of highway facilities and improve community knowledge of basic health, sanitation, and reproductive health. GAP activities, which also included the improvement of a local training facility, were provided complementary funding and technical support by an ADB regional technical assistance project to promote gender-inclusive development in Central and West Asia.
The reconstructed road ─ which requires minimum maintenance, supports high-load vehicles, and remains functional in extreme weather conditions ─ was reported to have had a substantial impact on regional cooperation. Regional trade volume, according to the RRF, tripled because of increased road capacity and improved road quality. Between 2009 and 2017, the number of freight vehicles crossing the Daut- Ata customs post on the border with Kazakhstan almost tripled.
The program was also confirmed to have positively impacted local communities by improving their quality of life, increasing economic activity, and providing more efficient access to market centers, and neighboring towns. Travel time was significantly reduced. Traffic collision rates declined. However, the number of fatal accidents rose because of the increased vehicle speed spurred by the improved road conditions.
The program, which also enhanced Uzbekistan’s and other CAREC member countries’ transport connectivity to international corridors such as E40, the longest European route of more than 8,000 km connecting Europe with Asia, had the RRF under the Ministry of Finance as executing agency. The RRF created a program management unit to oversee day-to-day implementation.