Austria-based intergovernmental development finance institution, OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) has signed a $75 million loan agreement with Bangladesh to strengthen connectivity and accessibility between the rural southwest regions and the capital Dhaka.
The OPEC Fund loan will help fund the construction of the Nalua-Baherchar Bridge (1.3km) and access roads across the Pandab-Paira River. This project will enhance connectivity between Dhaka and the southwest districts of Barisal and Patukhali, where agriculture and fishing are major economic activities, as per the statement.
The project will reduce travel time and expenses while also allowing agricultural produce to reach markets faster, as travelers can now cross the river via ferry. The government of Bangladesh is also co-financing the project.
“We are pleased to support Bangladesh in its goal to advance its transport sector. A stronger transportation infrastructure lowers costs and travel times, increases competitiveness, and helps to expand intraregional trade. This project will ultimately improve connectivity for nearly 1.6 million people. The OPEC Fund looks forward to further expand its strong partnership with Bangladesh.”
The OPEC Fund has supported Bangladesh for 45 years and committed more than $667 million (including the present loan) in public sector funding to help enhance the country’s transportation, energy, financial, agriculture, water supply, and sanitation, and education sectors.
According to the reports, “The OPEC Fund’s Private Sector and Trade Finance Facility contributed to the strengthening of the energy, industry, and telecom sectors, among others, and allowed banking institutions to expand their services for on-lending to Bangladesh’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).”
Earlier this month, OFID has signed a $25 million worth loan with Honduras’ Banco Ficohsa for on-lending to SMEs affected by disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and two hurricanes.