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Yemen to begin $3.5b international road project

National Yemen

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Yemen has announced plans to build a $3.5 billion highway linking the southern port city of Aden to Saudi Arabia, starting work in the next three months on what will be one of its biggest ever infrastructure projects.

The World Bank, which is contributing $134 million towards the 710km road, has said it will help jump-start the struggling economy of the country.
The road will pass through several conflict areas. Yemen received $7.9 billion in aid pledges from foreign donors which it badly needs for budget spending as currency reserves shrink. The aid has been slow to arrive.

Yemen’s minister for public works, Omar Al Korshomi, signed pledges on Monday to start work on two stretches of the road in the centre of the country, state news agency Saba said. 

That 85km of road will cost around $477 million, 80 per cent of which will be covered by the state-owned Saudi Development Fund and the rest by the Yemeni government.

Indian engineering firm Punj Lloyd and a Chinese company will build the two sections, Saba said.

“Preparation and readying of equipment and contracting companies is under way to begin carrying out in earnest the strategic highway plan this September,” chief engineer Abdul Jabar Salem told the website of the defence ministry’s newspaper.

The World Bank said this month that the road would “play a vital role in the country’s transition by targeting the root causes of instability, such as lack of access to economic opportunities and poor national integration, and rebuilding the country’s social and economic base.” Together with the World Bank, the Saudi Development Fund will fund $320 million of the road’s southernmost stretch going north from Aden.

More than 30,000 people will be affected by the process to acquire land on the road’s planned route, the bank added, and many of them will need to be compensated for lost homes, businesses and farmland.