Climate change to hit Bangladesh transport sector hard: UN expert

Rafiqul Islam back from Kathmandu
Thursday, November 26th, 2015

Climate change will severely affect Bangladesh’s transport sector in the future raising the costs of operation, maintenance, repair and rehabilitation, according to a UN transport expert.


Citing a 2014 World Bank study, UNESCAP transport expert Abdul Quium said increased salinity in coastal areas will cause an increase in road maintenance expenditure by 252 percent.


“Bangladesh may face more frequent and severer flooding in the future due to more intense rainfall, sea-level rise and storm surge…increased number and magnitude of floods, storm surges, and a sea-level rise can shorten transport infrastructure life,” he told a regional conference here on Tuesday.


The Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport of Nepal, the Ministry of the Environment of Japan, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) and the United Nations Centre for Regional Development (UNCRD) jointly organised the four-day ‘Intergovernmental Ninth Regional Environmentally Sustainable Transport (EST) Forum in Asia’ beginning at Hyatt Regency in Kathmandu on Tuesday evening.


Making his power-point presentation on ‘Transport Infrastructure – Adaptation to climate change and extreme weather impacts’, Abdul Quium said the infrastructure sector in developing countries will represent an estimated cost of US$ 15 billion to US$ 30 billion a year in between 2010 and 2050.


Roads and urban infrastructure will account for most of this estimated adaptation cost and more than 50 percent of this cost is expected to be incurred in the South and East Asia and the Pacific, he added. Quium said Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change and it is predicted that the country’s vulnerability will increase in the days to come due to sea-level and temperature rise, higher and more intense rainfall, increased frequency and severity of cyclones, and increased salinity.


He said the increased flood and erosion will damage road and rail infrastructures and their embankments. Also, frequent landslides caused by intense rainfall in hilly areas will cause damage to transport infrastructures. Referring to the 2007 Sidr Cyclone damages, the UN transport expert said Bangladesh will see US$ 239.5 million additional damages to road infrastructure due to increased storm surges while climate extreme events will affect length of 3,315 km highways and that of 13,996 km embankments by 2050.


About potential impacts of climate change on transport infrastructures, Quium said maintenance and construction costs for roads and bridges will go up due to the rise in temperature and exposure to storm surges.


Highlighting the Coastal Climate Resilient Infrastructure Project (CCRIP) of Bangladesh, he told the conference that Bangladesh is one of the first developing countries, which prepared a national strategy and action plan – Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan 2009 – and set up two funds (Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund and Bangladesh Climate Change Resilience Fund) to cope with climate change impacts.


The UN transport expert said the country is working to enhance security and safety of rural infrastructures through development of rural infrastructures up to climate proofing standards, which includes enhanced resilience to present climate effects plus forecasted future climate change impacts.


Deputy Minister for Environment and Forests Abdullah Al Islam Jakob and senior officials of Bangladesh’s Ministry of Environment and Forests and Ministry of Road Transport and Bridges are taking part in the four-day regional forum.

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