Trans-Hindukush Road Connectivity Project

Trans-Hindukush Road Connectivity Project

The Trans-Hindukush Road Connectivity Project (THRCP) aims to improve road transport connectivity throughout the Hindukush mountain range. The first of two components of this project comprises road construction and rehabilitation:  civil works for the construction of the Baghlan to Bamiyan (B2B) road and rehabilitation of the Salang road and tunnel; consulting services, including for the supervision of civil works and for regular technical audits by an independent international auditor; and equipment. The second component involves requisite institutional support and project management component, which consists of the following:  asset management for trans-Hindukush roads, road safety, community engagement, training, capacity building and institutional development, and project management support. Construction of the B2B road and rehabilitation of Salang tunnel and road will require the use of thousands of unskilled laborers and will generate millions of additional labor days.

Current Status

In 2015 the THRCP was approved by the World Bank Board of Governors, and the project became effective in January 2016. The Project Management Team (PMT) of the Ministry of Public Works is procuring several types of contracts. The Government has approved the budget, which includes funding for land acquisition and resettlement. It is estimated that for the project about USD $170 million will be spent on the B2B highway, USD $55 million will be spent on the Salang road and tunnel, while the remainder of USD $15 million will be spent on goods and services benefitting both roads, along with USD $10 million for institutional support and project management. In addition, the Asian Development Bank has recently committed USD $31.37 for the related Salang Corridor Rehabilitation Project. The project represents a central element of the Afghan Government’s National Infrastructure Plan and Connectivity Development National Priority Program.

Since 2016 the THRCP has completed its Preparation Stage and moved into its three-year Implementation Stage. UNOPS has been contracted as the Implementation Consultant, which will provide Fiduciary Management, Procurement, and development of the Operation and Maintenance (O&M) strategy to ensure future sustainability of this critical corridor. Construction contracts have been successfully procured for 2 of the 6 segments that comprise the new B2B highway, and the remaining 4 segments are being progressed in line with the current project program. Significant progress on design of one other segment is under way, and the remaining two segments are under survey.

An initial condition survey has been completed for critical elements of the Salang Pass. Procurement is under way to contract a capable expert international consultancy to undertake a desk review, investigation, and design and prepare tender documents for the major maintenance rehabilitation scheme to address the historical challenges of the Salang Pass and assure its future sustainability. Finally, the feasibility and detailed design study of the new Salang pass has been awarded to an Australian company named SMEC international. The company is expected to carry out a feasibility study based broadly on three of the USAID-identified options.

Budget & Funding Status USD $255 million (World Bank) and USD $31.37 million (ADB)
Institutional Partners Afghanistan (Ministry of Public Works), World Bank, UNOPS, Asian Development Bank

Recommended Actions by RECCA-VII and Beyond:

  • Ensure adequate resources and properly trained construction management teams and local private contractors are available for the design, building, and maintenance of the B2B road and Salang road and tunnel.
  • Engage local communities affected by the THRCP, so that they are part of the solution and recognize the benefits that will accrue for them:  this approach and sense of ownership by local communities will help to mitigate security concerns and delays to the project implementation.
  • Note that the security of people, plant/equipment, and construction, which directly correlate to progress, is a significant risk at these remote locations in relation to the ongoing security situation in the country.