World Bank taps Ecorys for waterway transport project in Kolkata

04 July 2023 2 min. read

The World Bank has selected global consulting firm Ecorys to support a program aimed at boosting inland waterway transportation in Kolkata, West Bengal.

The initiative will be undertaken in collaboration with the Government of West Bengal, which has set up an official waterway transportation development project. This project, which has the crucial support of the World Bank and a budget of $150 million, will seek to completely modernise the inland waterway transportation network in the Kolkata Metropolitan Area.

Appointed the lead economic consultant, Ecorys has been tasked with conducting research and providing expert support that will help “unlock the tremendous opportunities presented by inland waterway transportation”, said the World Bank in a statement.

World Bank taps Ecorys for waterway transport project in Kolkata

Howrah bridge in Kolkata

The role will see consultants from Ecorys analyse the economic impact of areas around upgraded jetties, investigate how the waterway transportation system can boost tourism, and work on disaster preparedness and early warning systems, among others.

The World Bank initiative is aiming to partially alleviate some of the major traffic and infrastructure issues in Kolkata. Poor planning and very high population density have become a congestion nightmare for commuters in the Bengali capital, which has been ranked as one of the worst cities for chaotic traffic in India.

“This project aims to modernise inland water transport, encourage private sector participation, and demonstrate the potential of waterways as a complement to road and rail transportation. Additionally, it aligns with the Government of India’s vision of transforming rivers into efficient waterways,” said Ecorys in a press release.

The Kolkata Metropolitan Area, with a population of nearly 15 million, is the largest city in the eastern part of India and the capital of West Bengal state. As a major cultural and commercial hub that contributes significantly to the country’s GPD, it is now seeing rapid urbanisation – and with that, major congestion challenges.

Public waterway transportation has already become a major part of the every-day commutes for huge numbers of residents in cities like New York, Hong Kong, Amsterdam, and Istanbul, where commuter ferries traverse rivers and bays with regular service. It can greatly alleviate the stress of the throngs of people that jam the prevailing primary forms of transportation, like trains and roadways.

This is not the first time the World Bank has engaged in development projects in West Bengal. Earlier this year, the World Bank approved a $148 million loan to support West Bengal in more efficiently using surface and ground water to benefit rural communities.

“We are committed to unlocking Kolkata’s potential through inland waterway transportation investments. By promoting local economic development, enhancing tourism services, improving resilience, and prioritising safety, we envision a prosperous future for Kolkata and its residents,” said Ecorys in a press release.