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Implementation Completion Report (ICR) Review - Niger Transport Infrastructure Rehabilitation Project


  
1. Project Data:   
ES Date Posted:
03/22/2004   
PROJ ID:
P035608
Appraisal
Actual
Project Name:
Niger Transport Infrastructure Rehabilitation Project
Project Costs(US $M)
 30.50  29.09
Country:
Niger
Loan/Credit (US $M)
 28.0  26.92
Sector, Major Sect.:
Central government administration, Roads & highways,
Law and justice and public administration; Transportation
Cofinancing (US $M)
   
L/C Number:
C3026; CQ022      
   
Board Approval (FY)
  98
Partners involved
 
Closing Date
01/31/2003 05/30/2003
         
Prepared by: Reviewed by: Group Manager: Group:  
Peter Nigel Freeman
George T. K. Pitman Alain A. Barbu OEDST

2. Project Objectives and Components:

a. Objectives

(i) To improve the condition of the road network and
(ii) To improve the efficiency of road maintenance execution.
While these overall objectives were not formally revised during the project period, they were (two years into implementation) elaborated on and expressed by four goals as follows:

  • To stabilize and improve the condition of the priority network, reducing the long-run economic costs for road maintenance and rehabilitation in order to attain sectorial financial sustainability;
  • To restructure and strengthen institutional capacity, financial viability and operational efficiency of the agencies of the sector;
  • To encourage private sector involvement in investment and management of the sector and
  • To reduce transport costs for the poor.

b. Components
(i) Regravelling of 1,060 km of unpaved main roads.
(ii) Definition of a strategy for rural roads, including the pilot execution of 150 km of rural roads.
(iii) Support to the Government's stated reform program, including:
- Divestiture of public works equipment rentals
- Road laboratory restructuring
- Public Works Dept. restructuring
- Road maintenance programming procedures
- Monitoring and contracting out road maintenance
- Training
- Computerized system and procedures for management of the Road Maintenance Fund
- Creation of the Road Maintenance Fund
- Definition of a Road Maintenance Strategy
- Environmental management training
(iv) Support to a series of actions and studies including:
- Technical advisory services to implement a road safety plan
- Improvement of technical control of vehicles
- Revision of regulatory framework for protection of road assets, including axle load limitation
- Study of poverty-transport linkages
- Creation of a National Observatory for Transport
- Feasibility study for an inland container terminal
- Definition of training strategy for the transport sector
- Development of an investment plan for river ports
- Computerization of vehicle registrations
(v) Environment - in addition to the road-specific environmental activities above the project included:
- Support to the National Council of Environment for Sustainable Development (CNEDD)
- Preparation of legal documents to implement the 1997 law institutionalizing environmental assessments
- Procurement of equipment
(vi) Project Management:
- Financial audits of the Credit and Special accounts
- Equipment provision
- Incremental operating costs for the National Bureau of Coordination (BNC), including contractual staff.

c. Comments on Project Cost, Financing and Dates
A portion of the Credit (US$ 3.05m) was reallocated to support the Government's public works retrenchment program when it became clear that this component was at serious risk following a period of political instability. Some US$ 3.59m was also used to fund the first part of a study on the concessioning of the Niger-Benin rail service (not envisioned at appraisal). The remainder of the rail study will be completed with funds from the French Overseas Development Agency.


3. Achievement of Relevant Objectives:

The objective improve condition of road network was substantially achieved with one important shortcoming. In terms of physical works implemented the project actually exceeded original output objectives. The level of service on 1,400km of unpaved roads was improved against a target of 1,060km. This expansion was achieved by reducing the original specifications from full regravelling to a "spot improvement" approach. It was then also possible to use some of the savings for emergency works following extremely heavy rains in1998. An important bridge on National Route 6 was rehabilitated and eight spot improvement contracts were awarded on the paved network. An innovative rural roads strategy was developed and a number of pilot projects implemented. Lack of adequate funds for maintenance, allied with lower design standards, means that the benefits will only be short term.


The objective improve the effectiveness of road maintenance execution was partially achieved, but with several shortcomings. The project was instrumental in introducing a number of fundamental structural reforms, some of which could in time be very beneficial. The privatization aspects have generally yielded more immediate benefits including reductions in passenger and freight travel costs.

The two original objectives are interrelated and both depend on adequate funds for road maintenance. However, lack of funding jeopardizes sustainability.


4. Significant Outcomes/Impacts:

The Public Works Directorate was restructured from a large force account organization to a much smaller and professional organization; this included the retrenchment of 1,200 staff.
  • There was a successful move away from undertaking road maintenance by force account to contracting out to private firms. At least eight local private contractors for road maintenance activities were established from former government force account employees.
  • The government's plant and equipment pool was privatized into a privately-owned equipment rental firm.
  • The public works laboratory was transformed into a commercial enterprise.
  • A Road Maintenance Fund was legally established.
  • Long-distance bus passenger transport was privatized with the establishment of the National Transport Company.
  • A Transport Observatory was established to provide transport and trade statistics.
  • The liberalization of inter-city passenger and freight services resulted in an average 7% reduction in passenger fares and 15% reduction in freight rates.
  • A Road Safety Action Plan was agreed and first steps to execute it implemented.
  • The quota system for petroleum product transport was eliminated which reduced the cost of transporting these products by 35%.
  • Numerous smaller studies were carried out covering HIV/AIDS, gender, environment, rural road strategy, poverty, dry port feasibility, legal issues, pilot computerization of registration and driver licensing data. and feasibility of the development of small boat landings on the Niger river.

5. Significant Shortcomings (include non-compliance with safeguard features):

The project should have been reassessed given the political instability following a coup d'etat in 1999 and negative economic growth which ensued. The deteriorating fiscal position resulted in a reversal of the intention to deposit road user fees directly into the Road Maintenance Fund. This reversal found support with advisors from both the IMF and the EU.
  • Fees allocated for road maintenance fell far short of needs.
  • Project design was far too complicated and involved too many activities for the resources and capacity available. Over 40 separate studies were included. In consequence there is serious doubt as to whether many of these initiatives will be followed through by concrete action.
  • Part of the planned training activities had to be cancelled to stay within the project funding envelope.
  • 6. Ratings:ICROED ReviewReason for Disagreement/Comments
    Outcome:
    UnsatisfactoryModerately Unsatisfactory(The ICR's four point scale does not allow for a moderately unsatisfactory rating). Takes account of the progress made with regulatory reform.
    Institutional Dev.:
    SubstantialSubstantial
    Sustainability:
    UnlikelyUnlikely
    Bank Performance:
    SatisfactorySatisfactory
    Borrower Perf.:
    UnsatisfactoryUnsatisfactory
    Quality of ICR:
    Satisfactory

    7. Lessons of Broad Applicablity:

    When major exogenous events occur (such as a coup d'etat) it is often appropriate to review the implications for successful completion of the project.
    • The project design should be in balance with the resources and capacity available to the Borrower.

    8. Audit Recommended?  Yes

              Why?   Many initiatives were taken in this project, but there is serious doubt about their sustainability. This should be audited so that lessons learnt can be properly documented. The success of the innovative rural roads strategy can only be judged some two years after the completion of the pilot projects, which will be in 2005.

    9. Comments on Quality of ICR:

    The ICR is well-prepared, gives a good analysis of the situation and a fair reflection of the outcome. A small point, however, is that there is no clear statement as to why the closing date is six months longer than planned - this has to be deduced from the text.

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