Key Transport Infrastructure in North Macedonia Gets Boost from World Bank, Following Emergency Pandemic Response

Washington: Improved local roads and better access to markets and services will help boost livelihoods across North Macedonia, following the approval today of additional financing of €37 million to replace funds reallocated from the Local Roads Connectivity Project in May 2020 to address the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic. This financing will support the rehabilitation of roads and related enhancements, including bus stops, sidewalks, bicycle facilities, improved drainage, and safety features and will boost economic competitiveness, support growth in beneficiary communities, and provide more and better opportunities for people around the country.

The project is aimed at enhancing the government’s capacity to manage local roads, increase market access, and improve services, and will rehabilitate and improve approximately 450 kilometers of local roads – creating better and safer transport options in 80 participating municipalities. Beneficiary communities will include a mix of rural communities with higher poverty levels and greater reliance on agriculture, urban municipalities, and areas with socioeconomically diverse populations.

“Although the country has made significant progress toward improving national road infrastructure and connectivity, reforms in the management and upgrading of the local road network are still needed to increase the accountability and sustainability of the sector,” says Svetlana Vukanovic, World Bank Senior Transport Specialist and Task Team Leader of the project. “In addition, enhancing climate resiliency within the local road networks will benefit residents and businesses by reducing the likelihood and severity of climate related interruptions in access to services, jobs, and markets.”

This additional financing will replace funds allocated from the original Local Roads Connectivity Project – approved by the World Bank on December 19, 2019 – to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. On May 8 2020, the World Bank activated a Contingency Emergency Response Component (CERC) of the project at the request of the Government of North Macedonia, allowing for €37 million to be directed toward financial support to private sector employers severely affected by the COVID-19 crisis and establishing an income support scheme for the months of April, May and June 2020.

“COVID 19 had a severe impact on North Macedonia and activating the contingency component allowed firms to mitigate their most immediate financial challenges and enabled them to keep as many employees as possible,” says Massimiliano Paolucci, World Bank Country Manager for North Macedonia and Kosovo. “This additional financing will ensure the preservation of the project’s primary goal of creating a healthier transport sector around the country – a key component for improving access to markets, and services and as such rebuilding North Macedonia’s economy and providing good employment opportunities.”