North-South Corridor (Kvesheti-Kobi) Road Project

Location:

Georgia

Project number:

50271

Business sector:

Transport

Notice type:

Public

Environmental category:

A

Target board date:

02 Oct 2019

Status:

Signed

PSD disclosed:

30 Jul 2019

Translated version of this PSD: Georgian

Project Description

Provision of a sovereign loan to Georgia to co-finance the construction of the Tskere-Kobi tunnel (EBRD Project), which forms part of the Kvesheti-Kobi road section (the Project), located on the Jinvali-Larsi Road (North-South Corridor). 

The central section of the corridor connecting Kvesheti to Kobi needs to be fully realigned. The existing 35-km road is unsafe, experiences heavy traffic, and is difficult to maintain in winter, resulting in road closure for extended periods during winter. A new 23-km bypass road from Kvesheti to Kobi will be built to allow more traffic to travel on it safely, and will remain fully operational all year; it will also provide 5km of all-weather rural roads that will serve roadside villages. The Project will include five tunnels with a total length of about 11.6 km (the longest of which is about 9 km), and six bridges with a total length of about 1.6 km.

Project Objectives

The project will improve the connectivity, access and safety on the North-South Corridor and will contribute to economic development. The project is the priority for the Government of Georgia and is part of a comprehensive road rehabilitation programme, which aims to transform Georgia into a transport, logistics and a trade hub connecting Europe and Asia, as well as providing better transit links in the Caucasus region, with emphasis on the country's backbone for transit trade comprised of the East-West and North-South transport corridors.

Transition Impact

The project will support economic development, regional integration and will enhance the connectivity along the key transport corridors within Georgia and its neighbouring countries (connecting Armenia, Turkey, Georgia and the Russian Federation). It will contribute to operational continuity for freight and passenger flows. Given technical complexity of the works and infrastructure objects (tunnels and bridges), the project will also support the introduction of new technology (drones) for the project and the Georgian road sector generally which will be incorporated in construction and supervision activities, especially for hard to reach infrastructure objects such as tunnels, portals and bridge structures.

Client Information

GEORGIA SOVEREIGN

Project Implementing Agency is the Roads Department of Georgia under the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure, which has overall responsibility for the road sector and is responsible for the implementation of the Project.

EBRD Finance Summary

EUR  53,400,000

Total Project Cost

EUR  497,300,000

- USD 60 million to be provided by the EBRD;

- USD 415 million to be provided by the Asian Development Bank;

- USD 83.6 million to be provided by Georgia.

Environmental and Social Summary

The project is categorised A under EBRD's Environmental and Social Policy (2014)  as it has the potential  to have significant environmental and social (E&S)  impacts associated with the construction and operation of a new road between Kvesheti and Kobi . The new bypass road is 23 km long. The road includes 5 tunnels at a total length of 11.6 km, one of which is 9 km long, and 6 bridges at a total length of 1.6 km, including a concrete arch bridge spanning the Khadistskali River.

The new road will be financed by the Government of Georgia with support from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). EBRD is co-financing only the tunnel contract (Lot 1).

The project Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) disclosure package including the ESIA, Non-Technical Summary, Framework Environmental and Social Management Plan (ESMP) appended to the ESIA, the Stakeholder Engagement Plan (SEP) and the Land Acquisition and Resettlement Framework (LARF)  have been completed and disclosed on the Roads Department and EBRD website on 3 May 2019. Hardcopies have been made available in local communities. The Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) has been disclosed in August 2019. All these documents cover the full Project (Lot 1 and Lot 2).

The Bank's environmental and social due diligence (ESDD) included documentation reviews and site visits to assess site-specific E&S impacts and any additional measures required to structure the project to meet the 2014 Environmental and Social Policy (ESP 2014).

There has been extensive engagement activities carried out during the development of the Project: from April 2018 to February 2019, more than 40 stakeholder engagement events have been held, including open consultation meetings, focus group discussions, and individual in-depth interviews. The SEP includes requirements for public engagement during the pre-construction and construction period, including a grievance mechanism. Community Liaison Officers will be responsible for the implementation of the SEP at the level of project site(s).

The Roads Department (RD) will develop and implement a Project framework Environmental and Social Management System (ESMS). A series of mitigation and management measures have been identified for all the project phases. A number of these measures entail that the Contractor prepares Specific Environmental Management Plans (S-EMP) before the start of field activities. Specific Environmental Management Plans include for example the Construction Camp Management Plan, the Labour and Working Conditions Management Plan, the Spoil Disposal Management Plan and the Biodiversity Management Plan. In addition, mitigation measures include that the Contractor employs a number of professionals such as an Environmental/Social Officer and an Ecological Clerks of Works, and that the Engineer employs an environmental and social team composed of an International Environmental/Biodiversity Specialist and an International Resettlement/ Social/ Labour Specialist, a National Environmental Specialist and a National Social Specialist as well as a Cultural Heritage Monitor. The national Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has been approved by the competent authority in April 2019. Spoil disposal areas, if different from the ones proposed in the ESIA, will be subject to a separate due diligence and dedicated approval process by the competent authority and the lenders.

The Project is going to involve both physical and economic displacement. To this end, the LARF was prepared and publicly disclosed. A separate Land Acquisition and Resettlement Plan (LARP) was prepared for each lot, and implementation of both LARPs started  by the RD. For Lot 1, the land acquisition needs include 23 plots (20 agricultural and 3 residential lands), affecting a total area of 0.56 ha. The land acquisition will affect 3 residential buildings, 12 fruit trees, 8 gates/fences, vegetables and fodder on 5 and 18 plots, respectively. The total number of affected households is estimated to be 17 (67 affected persons), with 14 households expected to be severely affected and 5 vulnerable households. The implementation of LARP will be verified through the Completion Report prepared by the external monitoring consultant. In addition, the LARP implementation will be regularly monitored and reported through regular internal monitoring reports.

During the construction phase the Contractor is expected to employ up to 600 workers. The construction phase will last approximately 36 months for Lot 2 and 48 months for Lot 1. Any temporary accommodation and welfare facilities (construction camps or private dwellings) for workers will be designed and constructed to meet requirements of IFC/EBRD Worker Accommodation Guidance Note 2009. The core requirements of the EBRD Performance Requirement 2 will also be cascaded down across all contracting chains, including subcontractors. In addition to internal monitoring, an external labour audit will be carried out twice during the project (when main workforce is mobilized and at peak period). A Road Safety Audit for the Project has been conducted during the design phase and its main recommendations have been addressed. A Road Safety Inspection will be carried out on Lot 1 before the start of operations.

The description of the existing biodiversity baseline and conservation status of the Project area has been developed through a combination of desk based studies, expert consultations, and site surveys. In particular the work included targeted surveys conducted in autumn 2018 and spring 2019 for flora, fauna, migratory birds and otters, to address potential seasonal variations. Additional autumn surveys are currently been conducted to gather more data on migratory birds, bats and otters. The northern end of the project and northern portal lie within (or under) the proposed Kazbegi Key Biodiversity Area and Kazbegi Important Bird Area ; the project also runs at a depth of over 200 m under a small portion of the fragmented Kazbegi National Park (which has recently been expanded in area) and proposed Emerald Network site. The main scheme (disposal sites not included) is expected to result in the direct loss of around 2.5ha of natural habitat and around 14ha of modified habitat. Spoil disposal sites will be located outside of the National Park and any national priority habitat. A Critical Habitat Assessment and an Appropriate Assessment screening have been carried out, which concluded that the study area is considered Critical Habitat for two bird species, but the Project is not expected to have an impact on these species (Black Vulture and Caucasian black grouse). A Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) has been developed, which includes a set of species and/or habitat specific conservation actions aimed at achieving No Let Loss / Net Gain for priority biodiversity features and critical habitat, including Birch Krummholz and Low Grass Marsh habitats;  Endemic Plant Species; Breeding Birds such as Black Grouse, Egyptian Vulture and Corncrake; Migrating Raptors; Notable Mammals such as Caucasian Chamois, Otter, Bats, Large Carnivores, and Kazbegi Birch Mouse. The BAP will be supervised by the Supervision Engineer, who will also develop and implement a Biodiversity Monitoring and Evaluation Plan. Implementation of actual BAP activities on the ground will be undertaken by the Works Contractor, either through physical works or completion of surveys, though it is expected that the Works Contractor will sub-contract these specialist surveys to relevant universities, NGOs or consultants.

Noise modelling carried out (over 344 noise receptors) as part of the ESIA indicates that a maximum of 19 receptors will be impacted by noise levels elevated above IFC guideline limits for noise in 2028, even with the incorporation of the noise barriers into the Project. During the pre-construction phase the Engineer shall undertake further refined noise modelling to determine the specification and precise locations of the proposed noise barriers and to further reduce the number of properties predicted to be above IFC guideline limits. For these receptors, alternative mitigations will be resettlement (the properties will be included in the LARP) or signature of a waiver if the property owner wants to stay in his house.

A wide range of physical cultural heritage can be found in the Project Area. Most of the physical cultural resources identified in the Project Area during the ESIA process are historical towers, in addition to a few churches, some memorials and three cemeteries. Nearly all of the identified physical cultural resources are set back from the proposed alignment more than 50 meters; the exceptions are six sites. Prior to the start of construction works, the Contractor will adopt a Chance Find Procedure and provide an induction to all of its workers before they are allowed working on the site. With the proposed mitigation measures that include the preparation of the Cultural Heritage Management Plan and engagement of a Cultural Heritage Monitor, the Project is not expected to damage or cause significant impacts to the cultural heritage sites and objects.

When in place, the new alignment will change the landscape substantially being a new section where there are currently no asphalt roads. However, more than 50% of the alignment will be in tunnel and the visual impact will be limited to the areas above ground, including spoil disposal sites. The main recipients of the visual impact will be local residents, travelers/tourists and commuters using the road.

The Environmental and Social Action Plan (ESAP), which among others includes the mitigation measures described above, will enable to structure the Project to comply with national legislation and the Bank's Performance Requirements (PRs). The ESAP has been disclosed with the ESIA package. The Lenders' independent consultants will undertake regular audits of the project to assess EHSS performance during construction in accordance with the Bank Performance Requirements.

There is an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment available for this project.

Technical Cooperation

The following EBRD-funded Technical Co-operation assignments are envisaged as part of this
project:

Pre-signing

  • Environment and social due diligence support
  • Drone use assessment


The project will also be supported by an investment grant for the acquisition of drones and related training/capacity building.

Company Contact Information

Givi Kveladze
givi.kveladze@georoad.ge
(+995 32) 2 37 05 08
http://www.mrdi.gov.ge/
12 Kazbegi ave., 0160 Tbilisi, Georgia

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