National Highway Development Sector Investment Program – Project 1
sector: Transport | country: Pakistan
Implementation issues. The highway improvement project had a realistic time frame that took the implementation issues in Pakistan into account. These include governance, security, and institutional capacity constraints. Although one of the subprojects was delayed by 12 months and project implementation was affected by floods, this did not affect the overall project schedule. All these issues are likely to continue to impact current and future projects. Advance planning and adequate contingencies are essential for efficient project implementation.
Social safeguards. The N70 subproject faced several delays due to land acquisition and resettlement issues. The important lessons from this include the need (i) to raise awareness of the importance of social safeguards within the government at central and local levels, (ii) to delay contractor mobilization in future until social safeguards have been complied with, and (iii) for ADB to apply its Safeguards Policy Statement (2009) in cognizance of national laws.
Improve project implementation performance. The project shows that implementation can be improved by (i) ensuring that the executing agency has sufficient capacity in safeguards monitoring, and project management; (ii) enabling continuity of staff working on project implementation within the executing agency and at ADB; (iii) raising awareness of ADB – s procedures within the executing agency at the appraisal stage; (iv) making ADB expertise available within the country for project monitoring and day-to-day interactions with the executing agency, consultants, and contractors; and (v) close supervision by the executing agency, ADB, and the supervising engineer, which improved contractor performance.
Quality at entry. The institutional strengthening project could have been better designed in more consultation with the executing agency. The lack of understanding within the National Highway Authority (NHA) on the benefits of project, the delays in procuring the consultants, and the change in their terms of reference indicate the lack of ownership for policy reforms and institutional strengthening within the NHA. This contributed to the poor performance of the project. Had ADB engaged in a more rigorous policy dialogue at project planning stage, the project could have been designed better and more acceptable to the NHA.
This poor performance illustrates the need for the government to adopt a clear strategy on developing the transport sector in general and the sector – s institutions in particular. It has also helped identify areas for future technical assistance – project planning, safeguards monitoring, and project management.
The private sector in Pakistan also faces capacity constraints that prevent efficient and effective project implementation. This could be addressed by technical assistance programs to transfer good practices from other countries as well as to improve national educational institutions.