Barbados to improve the quality of road infrastructure and its competitiveness with support from the IDB

Barbados will rehabilitate sections of two major highways to lower transport costs and improve road safety with a $25 million loan approved by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

The IDB loan will finance the rehabilitation and improvement of approximately 31 kilometers of key segments of Barbados’ primary road network, including drainage, construction of sidewalks, rehabilitation of associated bridges and culverts, and safety features along with a pilot for outsourced performance-based routine road maintenance.

It will also contribute to the strengthening of transport sector governance through capacity building within Barbados’ Ministry of Transport and Works (MTW) in the key areas of transport planning and asset management, maintenance financing, technical standards for quality control and assurance, gender parity, and road safety.

These primary roads – the ABC Highway and the Charles Duncan O’Neal Highway -- connect Barbados’ touristic, industrial, and business areas with the Bridgetown Port and the Grantley Adams International Airport. This road network supports transportation for Barbados’ productive sectors, which consists primarily of tourism, light manufacturing, quarrying, and agriculture. The project will also provide funds for institutional strengthening to improve transport sector planning, road maintenance financing, civil works project implementation and supervision, and sustainability.

It is expected that this project will contribute to sustainable growth in the Barbadian economy through interventions to rationalize and improve public sector efficiency and by supporting private sector participation and development through greater involvement in the transport sector.

In the last 15 years, Barbados has undergone a rapid increase in the number of motor vehicles on the roads affecting traffic flow and patterns. The growing volume of traffic on the roads, especially at peak periods, is a cause of increasing public concern. This has worsened local transport logistics and has increased the number of road accidents; and indirectly, the loss of man hours and quality of life – all of which are important to a tourism-focused economy.

In recent years, regular and periodic maintenance and infrastructure upgrading has not been sufficiently financed to keep the national road network in good condition. The unique combination of increasing traffic on Barbados’ roads, the fact that much of the country’s primary road network has reached or is well beyond its design life, and a drastic drop in the MTW’s budget due to economic constraints have resulted in a need for external financing for the rehabilitation of key segments of its primary highway network.

The IDB loan is for a 25-year term, with a 5-year grace period and a LIBOR-based interest rate. Local counterpart funds total $25 million.

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The Inter-American Development Bank is devoted to improving lives. Established in 1959, the IDB is a leading source oflong-term financing for economic, social and institutional development in Latin America and the Caribbean.The IDB also conducts cutting-edge research and provides policy advice, technical assistance and training to public and private sector clients throughout the region.