In the context of LIRNEasia’s work, connectivity is usually understood as electronic connectivity. But as the quote below exemplifies, in most contexts it means everything other than electronic. It is our challenge to merge these two conceptions. It is now normal in road design to include conduits for fiber. We hope that this will be written into the Asian Highway legal documents shortly. In the meantime, we will try to advance this thinking in the Bay of Bengal region.
Roads are a priority in the BIMSTEC region as 70 percent of trade here moves by road and the roads are bad. For the railways to be useful, they should be standardized because, some countries have meter gauge (like Bangladesh) and others (like India and Sri Lanka) have broad gauge. To facilitate trade by sea, deep waters ports will have to be constructed.
Under the South Asia Sub-Regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) program funded by the ADB, Chittagong port in Bangladesh has improved its container handling facility, and freight movement to Kolkata and Haldia ports in West Bengal, have been eased. Air transport, made cheaper by low cost airlines, is being given a boost with a US$ 100 million SASEC assistance to improve airports.