Traffic fatalities in Iraq are predicted to reduce by as much as 25% following a scheme that will see the country enjoy improved links with its Northern, Southern and Western neighbours.
Approved by the World Bank Board of Directors last month, the $355m Iraq Transport Corridors Project will bring about a dramatic increase in road quality, while promoting citizen engagement, regional trade integration and national unity. A partnership between the Islamic Development Bank, which will contribute $217m, and the Government of Iraq, which will contribute $484m, will implement the project.
Ferid Belhaj, the World Bank’s Mashreq Department Country Director, announced: “The project, which covers the main national route, will facilitate trade movement between Iraqi governorates and neighbouring countries. This will boost economic growth and lead to better service quality along the international corridors which carry most of the tradable goods.”
He continued: “Iraq has one of the highest levels of road accident fatalities in the world, and the rehabilitation of the expressway will improve road safety and travel time. Commuters and residents will also be able to report on the condition of the roads using mobile phones and GPS technologies.”
Iraq’s 48,000km road network has suffered from poor maintenance following decades of war and a depletion of human resources. 6,000 road fatalities were reported in 2010 alone, an alarming testament to the network’s state of disrepair. More worrying still, the World Health Organization puts its estimations close to 12,000 for that year.
The Iraq Transport Corridors Project will see increased national institution capacity, equipping Iraqi staff to manage and local infrastructure systems. In particular, a Citizens’ Roadway Reporting System will allow neighbouring communities to exchange feedback on road quality and the condition of service areas. Fibre optic cable ducts will enable strengthened broadband access, and the reporting of reckless driving, speeding, pollution, traffic accidents, required repairs, and so forth.
These real-time information updates will improve response efficiency to road works, delays and other condition changes, and increase the effectiveness of road management communication and surveillance systems, including axle-load limit enforcement and traffic safety monitoring.
A much improved system of rest-stops will bring safety to small roadside businesses, and new service area restaurants and lavatories will greatly improve conditions for Iraq’s 150,000 citizens with limited mobility. World Bank Team Leader Ibrahim Dajani said: “This project is a result of close collaboration between the Iraqi Ministry of Construction and Housing, the Iraqi road agencies and the World Bank team. It focuses on enhancing the capacity of the institutions to manage and maintain the road networks through technical assistance.”
You can find a video from the World Bank on the project below: