The World Bank approved a US$150 million loan to improve the capacity and reliability of inland waterway transport along the Han River in China’s Hubei Province.
Importantly, the project will increase connectivity between the less developed central and western regions and the more prosperous eastern provinces. Certainly, it will yield local and global environmental benefits by promoting a green mode of transport and producing renewable energy.
Hence, as part of the Yangtze River Economic Belt, China is relocating industries in the less developed inland regions of the middle and upper reaches of the Yangtze River.
This requires an efficient multimodal transport that can move freight over long distances in a sustainable manner.
Zhai Xiaoke, World Bank’s senior transport specialist and leader of the project, said: “Inland waterway transport is a cost effective and environmentally friendly mode of transport that is underexploited in China.”
Zhai added the project will promote a shift from roads to waterways. This will reduce carbon emissions from transport.
The Hubei Inland Waterway Improvement Project will construct the Yakou Navigation-Hydropower Complex in the middle reaches of the Han River.
It will upgrade about 53 kilometers of waterway between the Yakou and the Cuijiaying Complex to Class III navigation standards.
This project also enables the completed investments at other cascades to realize their full navigation capacity and economic benefits.
The hydropower station will supply renewable energy to Yicheng City, which is located 16 kilometers from Yakou.
Additionally, the project will also provide gravity flow irrigation to over 5,300 hectares of existing farmland.
Also, other anticipated benefits of the project include
- significant reduction of lifting costs
- improvement of flood resilience
- creation of a better landscape for recreational tourism
The total investment of the project is US$515.13 million. The IBRD loan will finance US$150 million and the Hubei Provincial Government will invest US$365.13 million.
Therefore, about 5.61 million residents along the Han River are expected to benefit from the economic development and ecological improvement brought about by the greener transport mode.