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LAHORE: The Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Institute organized a workshop to share findings of its CAREC road asset management (RAM) maturity assessment and discuss importance of systemic and efficient road maintenance which, in the end, contributes to connectivity, trade, economic growth, and poverty reduction.

CAREC members - Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan - renewed their commitment to cross-border transport and logistics facilitation, road safety and RAM, railways, and aviation development in an updated CAREC Transport Strategy 2030 adopted at the 2020 Ministerial.

Two of the six CAREC transport corridors cross Pakistan, namely the route which connects Central and East Asia (involving China, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan) with the all-weather seaports at Karachi and Gwadar; and a route from Quetta which crosses the Chaman-Spin Buldak border-crossing point to continue to Turkmenistan at Torghondi-Serkhet Abad and further into the western and northern destinations.

These routes require well-maintained roads to increase speed, reduce time, reduce vehicle operating cost, and achieve greater efficiency in economic relations. Pakistan’s share of transport network is estimated at 11,713 km rail and over 264,000 km road. While Pakistan developed the national transport policy, national transport master plan and subsector policies, national transport demand model, national RAMS, etc., recommendations remain about establishing a Ministry of Transport, adoption of national freight and logistics policy, and enhancement of data collection and data sharing across agencies.

The trainer of this RAM workshop, Dr. Ian Greenwood, Chartered Professional Engineer, New Zealand, pointed out: “We don’t build roads, rehabilitate roads, or maintain roads for the fun of it, we do that to deliver a service level… RAM is the process of managing the road assets – comprising of people, processes, data, and information management systems – to deliver the desired level of service at the lowest possible lifecycle cost.” This is particularly pertinent now when the world grapples with COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences, and where priority funding is directed at health sector, small and medium enterprise survival, education, support to the vulnerable, etc.

The CAREC-specific RAM maturity assessment, discussed at this workshop, can help focus questions on matters of importance for CAREC countries. It will also help them conduct self-assessments, benchmark good practices across the region, and create more useful improvement plans going forward. In 2020, the CAREC Institute has transformed its capacity building interventions to avoid one-off events and offer cascading and research-based capacity building to ensure the workshops best meet the member country needs and help harmonize approaches. In this case, in the long term, and through a collective effort, the CAREC RAM systems are expected to meet the ISO55000 standard in future.

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