30 brand new buses have arrived in Osh, the southern capital of the Kyrgyz Republic. The buses are part of a project financed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) that aims to boost safe and accessible public transport services in the city. It will also include the purchase of 24 low-floor, accessible trolley buses in the near future and pay for the modernisation of the municipal depot.
The EBRD has provided total financing of over €10 million to the project which is intended to double the number of passengers for the municipal Osh Auto Transport Company.
The total package consisted of a €5.7 million sovereign loan and a €3.1 million investment grant from the EBRD Shareholder Special Fund, while €1.2 million is being spent on technical cooperation programmes also financed by EBRD grants. The programmes include the introduction of a new automated fare-collection system, as well as a corporate development plan for the company and a gender inclusion plan.
At a ceremony in Osh, EBRD Director for Central Asia, Neil McKain, said: “I am very proud to see these high-capacity buses arrive today. Reliable and safe public transport is crucial for people’s quality of life. I am also pleased that this investment will particularly benefit women in several ways: by providing safer, spacious buses, and in the near future, low-floor trolley buses too, which will be able to accommodate children’s buggies, as well as by introducing an innovative programme of gender inclusion in the workforce.”
The ceremony was also attended by the Mayor of Osh, the Director of the Osh Auto Transport Company and other local officials.
The Mayor of Osh, Aitmamat Kadyrbaev, said: “This project will allow us to add new buses and trolley buses to our transport fleet. We will also improve the trolley bus infrastructure and the depot. Thirty new, low-floor accessible buses are a wonderful New Year’s present to the citizens of Osh.”
The EBRD-supported gender advisory services programme will see the city’s authorities and the Osh Auto Transport Company work together to offer improved job and career growth opportunities to women in the company. The action plan, which the firm is about to start implementing, includes activities that range from amending company human resources policies and practices to bolster equal opportunities to gender-sensitive recruitment practices with a special focus on recruiting and training female bus and trolley-bus drivers who are currently underrepresented at the company.
Osh and the entire south of the Kyrgyz Republic are identified as a priority area in the EBRD strategy for the Kyrgyz Republic. The Bank has supported projects to improve water and wastewater services, solid waste management and electricity transmission lines, making them more reliable, and has provided credit lines and advisory services to local small and medium-sized businesses. A number of international donors, including the EU and Switzerland, are working with the EBRD on these improvements, providing grants alongside EBRD loans and other financing.
To date, the EBRD has invested over €650 million (equivalent to more than US$ 686 million) in the country.