: Bloomberg: Ukraine confronts mammoth task of fixing its Soviet-era roads

16:46 Jul. 9, 2016

Bloomberg: Ukraine confronts mammoth task of fixing its Soviet-era roads

Most of the Ukrainian roads are in poor condition (UNIAN photo)

90% of Ukrainian roads haven't been repaired for 30 years

With armed conflict still simmering in Ukraine's eastern regions, the government is starting to face another daunting task: repairing a road network which mostly hasn't been touched since well before the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Authorities in Kyiv are looking for sources of investment and have invited the World Bank to help draw up plans to improve 170,000 kilometers of roads, of which 90 percent have not been upgraded for over 30 years. Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman's cabinet wants to make sure foreign companies face no administrative barriers in bidding for reconstruction projects, Infrastructure Minister Volodymyr Omelyan said in an interview.

Ukraine, Europe's largest country by area after Russia, needs navigable roads and railways to support one of the region's biggest concentrations of heavy industry and sustain its role as a major grain exporter worldwide via the Black Sea. Besides the war with separatists and mutual trade sanctions with Russia, the cabinet and its western donors are grappling with a legacy of red tape and corruption as they try to revitalize the economy.

"We want to maximally liberalize our approach to tenders for road works and to allow foreign companies to bid," Omelyan said.

While the state budget has 19 billion hryvnia (USD 764 million) available this year for road renovations, the government still faces "technical difficulties" in finding contractors and ensuring the desired quality, he said.

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