|A man drives his motorbike on a local road in the northwest mountainous region. — VNA/VNS Photo|
HÀ NỘI — Some 198km of roads in the northwestern mountainous region will be upgraded under a project costing US$188 million, borrowed from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
The improved roads, connecting remote areas of the region to the Nội Bài-Lào Cai Expressway, are expected to boost the area’s trade with two neighbouring countries, China and Laos.
The project is also expected to provide the area’s residents with reliable access to basic social services such as education, health care, job training and emergency disaster relief.
“The project will help the Government of Việt Nam develop the region by enhancing agriculture, tourism and border trade,” said ADB Principal Transport Specialist Mr. Witoon Tawisook. “It will also connect the underdeveloped region with the economic centres of the country, attract private investment and create jobs for the local population.”
The northwest region, consisting of the provinces of Điện Biên, Hòa Bình, Lai Châu, Lào Cai, Sơn La and Yên Bái, lags behind the rest of the country in economic and social development.
The poverty rate was estimated at 45 per cent in 2016, while the number is only 18 per cent nationwide. The region relies on small-scale industrial companies, such as stone, lime, and metal ore exploitation and processing firms.
The ADB said the region has yet to benefit from the backbone of the northwest region’s road network, the Nội Bài-Lào Cai Expressway, which is part of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Kunming-Hải Phòng Transport Corridor connecting Hà Nội to China’s Yunnan Province.
This disconnect is due to the incomplete national and provincial road networks and the poor condition of existing roads.
The existing roads are also prone to natural disasters made more likely by the effects of global warming such as flash floods, landslides and wildfires, the bank said.
The project aims to help the region overcome those difficulties by ensuring high standards for road construction and addressing the risks posed by climate change. — VNS