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Asian Development Bank to Help Vietnam Improve Roads

The Asian Development Bank has approved almost $95 million dollars in loans to improve 1,200 kilometers of roads in Vietnam's impoverished central region.

The Asian Development Bank says roads are the principal means of moving goods and people in central Vietnam, but existing networks are scattered and of poor quality - many are only dirt or gravel.

The ADB loans will be used to establish paved roads, upgrade foundations and make other improvements to allow transportation in all-weather conditions. ADB spokesman Graham Dwyer says poor roads have left the region cut off. "As a result, the cost of transport in these areas is very high,' he said. "For instance, bus drivers are reluctant to provide services on these poor roads. And when they do offer services, these stop when the roads are closed because of flooding."

As isolated communities are opened up to improved transportation, they also face increased risk of the transmission of diseases such as HIV/AIDS. So the ADB has included a $500,000 grant to run awareness programs including education, information, counseling and voluntary testing in these communities.

Along with the ADB money, the Vietnamese government will offer another $32 million in financing, and the Nordic Development Fund $11 million, to bring the project's total value to $138 million. The target for completing the program is 2010.