NEW ROADS, NEW WAYS

Lebanon 2017 | TRANSPORT | FOCUS: ROAD NETWORK EXPANSION

With support from the World Bank, Lebanon is paving new roads and new ways to further stimulate jobs and economic growth, diffusing new opportunities as the new roads elevate connectivity nation wide.

The Road and Employment Project consist of USD200 million for the development of the road network in Lebanon. It will improve the quality and safety of roads, enhance connectivity, reduce transport costs, and help to develop the local economy through better access to markets and services—especially in the less developed regions of the country.

With this new package, the World Bank's current commitment to grants, loans, and other concessional financing to Lebanon reached USD1.3 billion. This project is first funding Lebanon has received under the World Bank's mechanism to support middle-income countries that were once receiving regular World Bank funding but are not under extraordinary social and economic pressure.

The road network in Lebanon is in bad shape, mainly due to lack of investment and inefficient spending for many years. The network consists of 21,705km of roads. The main national network amounts to 6,380km of mostly paved roads. The Ministry of Public Works and Transport considers that about 15% of the main network is in good condition, 50% is acceptable, and 35% is in bad condition.

These poor road conditions are detrimental to both citizens and the national economy. The World Bank report notes that Lebanon has one of the highest average road accident rates in the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates the total number of road traffic fatalities in 2015 were 1,088, with economic costs ranging between 3% and 5% of GDP, which is higher than that of most other countries in the world.
Funding of the first phase to expand and enhance Lebanon's road network consists of USD200 million from the World Bank, including an International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) loan, and a USD100 million loan requested by the government from other donors. The World Bank coordinates the planning and design of the project with the parallel project of the government of USD100 million under the first phase to ensure the success of the program as a whole. The Council for Development and Reconstruction is responsible for implementing and monitoring the project.

This first phase of the road rehabilitation plan, estimated at USD300 million, is planned for three to five years and focuses on four main objectives: rehabilitation and maintenance of existing road networks, improvement of road safety systems, purchase of emergency equipment for road works, and capacity building to improve management and efficiency in the sector. The project will include a survey of up to 6,000km of main, secondary, and sub-roads to determine which are most in need of rehabilitation. The funding will be used to repair around 500km of roads in its first phase.

Investment in the rehabilitation of the road network in Lebanon leads to many important results. First, it will stimulate the economy and contribute to political stability and social cohesion. Second, it will provide important direct and indirect employment opportunities for Lebanese and Syrian low-skilled people in the most vulnerable societies. Third, it can provide wide coverage in different regions of Lebanon, thereby expanding the spectrum of beneficiary communities.

The funding from this project is aimed to help Lebanon continue to provide basic services to its citizens and Syrian refugees in the country.

The road construction sector has always employed a large number of Lebanese and low-skilled Syrians in Lebanon. Prior to the outbreak of the Syrian crisis, the road construction sector employed more than 100,000 workers, about 10% of the labor force. The project will help stimulate further job creation within the construction and transportation sectors.