It is estimated that the programme, which has an overall cost of US$615m, will benefit two-thirds of the country’s people.

The Operation for Supporting Rural Bridges programme will maintain 85km of bridges, widen or rehabilitate a further 29km and build another 20km of new bridges. The programme will also create jobs for local people by generating about 5.5 million person-days of employment, including long-term maintenance work.

“By bridging the missing links in Bangladesh’s rural road network, the programme will enable rural communities living in remote areas to have better road connections,” said Qimiao Fan, World Bank country director for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal. “This will help millions of rural people access markets, hospitals and schools as well as create new opportunities for livelihoods.”

Bangladesh has a higher road density than any other South Asian country, including India and Sri Lanka. As Bangladesh’s flat terrain is criss-crossed by hundreds of rivers, bridges play a critical part in the country’s road system. While Bangladesh enjoys an extensive rural road network, one-fifth of the rural bridges needed have not yet been built. This project will build, widen, and maintain rural bridges in 61 districts. In 19 coastal districts, the project will construct or rebuild bridges to include climate resilient features.