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The Road Sector – Background & Evaluation


The Bangladesh government outlined its rural development strategy, focusing on development of infrastructure including roads, markets, storage facilities, and minor irrigation. Since then, improved rural roads and other infrastructure, through various Government- and donor-funded projects, have created opportunities for economic growth and poverty reduction through a range of mechanisms. Roads have reduced transport costs and in turn the cost of goods and services. The easier access to markets and technology has expanded farm and nonfarm production through increased availability of inputs at lower cost, as well as growth in rural enterprises. Road-related studies inBangladesh have also suggested that household consumption has gained, reducing poverty. At the household level, road development contributes to higher productivity and demand for labor and improved education and health, including for women and girls. Rural road investments have been pro-poor: gains are proportionately higher for the poor than for the non-poor.


Still roads remain unsafe & Injury and death rates from road accidents in Bangladesh are among the highest in the world. Bangladesh has around 0.7 million motorized vehicles and 1.5 million non-motorized vehicles, with the former expected to double in the next 10 years. According to police statistics, road traffic crashes cause 4,000 deaths annually, but the unofficial figures are much higher. Even using official figures, road accident fatalities in Bangladeshwould be about four times those of India (57 deaths per 10,000 motorized vehicles in Bangladesh versus 13 in India ).


While the priority given by the Government to roads may be criticized because it lead to a reduced role of waterways and railways, expanding the road network has generated benefits both in terms of economic growth and poverty alleviation that have likely largely exceeded the additional costs resulting from the use of road transport more expensive than the two others. The problem of the respective share of the various transport modes is thus more a question for the future in a context where creating accessibility is less a priority than maximizing the benefits generated by the transport sector in the country on its economy and population in a more difficult environment (global financial crisis, cost of energy, climate change).


A key reason for road transport’s dominance is its efficiency relative to other modes. It provides door-to-door services, is more flexible, and completes the service in less time than competing modes. An important element in the dominance of road transport has also been the government’s public expenditure policy that has favored the road sector, at the expense of rail and river transport.

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