Hiroaki Yamaguchi has been in the business of paving South Asian roads for the last five and a half years.
Working as a senior transport specialist with the Asian Development Bank’s South Asia department, he ultimately seeks to help build physical and human assets as he spearheads some of the bank’s numerous roads and railway projects including the reconstruction of the 1,800-km road in India’s Madhya Pradesh state and the overhaul of primary roads in Bhutan.
“I think that transport infrastructure will expand people’s activities, making access easier and safer to markets and to social services such as education and medical,” said Yamaguchi, adding that his opinions do not necessarily reflect the views of ADB. “This helps bring out [a] country’s and [a] region’s potential for development.”
Just recently, Yamaguchi served as a mission leader in the rehabilitation of an 820-km road in the Indian state of Bihar which was backed by a US$ 420 million ADB credit.
“As a mission leader, [I am] responsible for preparing a project with the government counterpart [by] getting inputs from other ADB specialists and consultants,” he said. “[My] major contribution is to negotiate projects from the outset, ensuring the project timely and at high quality.
“It will improve access to socioeconomic services, increase employment opportunities and improve transport services which will reduce poverty in the region,” the ADB transport expert said of the Bihar road project.
Despite the various projects he has helped design and implement, Yamaguchi believes that his contributions represent a minute part in the fundamental development goal of zero poverty.
“My work is a very small thing to contribute to such development goal … development requires huge investment[s] and patience by people all over the world.”
Bottlenecks in his line of work arise during project preparation as he is tasked to consider a partner country’s “institutional setting, policy effects, engineering, environment, social and resettlement [conditions], economics [and] financial sustainability” among others.
But this same challenge motivates Yamaguchi to continue his development work as he is keen to “[resolve] issues with various stakeholders,” adding that true development is one that enables a country to bring out its “maximum potential under certain constraints”.
Given the tedious process of project design, the transport specialist noted that the conclusion of project design “after long discussions with various stakeholders” truly prove to be gratifying.
Yamaguchi worked with government agencies and private consulting firms in the field of transport in Japan and Australia including PADECO, State Transit Authority of New South Wales and Rail Infrastructure Corporation, among others, before joining the regional lender.
He holds a doctorate and a master’s degree in engineering science from the University of New South Wales, Australia and a master’s and a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Tokyo, Japan.
He hopes to gain more experience in the international development field so as “to handle complicated projects, involving various countries and stakeholders” and serve as a “good mentor to colleagues.”