Govt searching funds for Dhaka-Ctg 8-lane project

Investment must be sustainable from economic point of view, says a transport expert

| Updated: February 08, 2023 13:07:12

Govt searching funds for Dhaka-Ctg 8-lane project

The government is trying to get funds from development partners to upgrade the Dhaka-Chattogram highway into an eight-lane one, including service lanes.

The Roads and Highways Department (RHD) has estimated the cost to be roughly around Tk 730 billion - more than 21 times higher than the cost spent on the same corridor for upgrading into a four-lane six years ago, sources said.

The department had spent Tk 34.39 billion on the 193-kilometre four-lane project that took 12 years to complete in 2016. Initially, its estimated cost was Tk 16 billion.

The RHD has sent a proposal to the Road Transport and Highways Division to find development partners through the Economic Relations Division (ERD) based on the rough estimate.

"The actual cost would be assessed after feasibility study and detailed design work," said an official.

However, transport experts said the extraordinarily high cost of the project should be reviewed properly as the government has already spent a good amount of money to conduct a study for building an expressway on the same corridor at an estimated cost of Tk 933.5 billion.

Transport Expert Professor Mohammad Shamsul Hoque termed such investment damaging for the country's economy as an access-control highway is more important than the traditional highway to match the country's graduation.

He said upgrading through expanding the highway on both sides would not solve the problems as its utility could not be found in the eight-lane highway from Jatrabari to Katchpur Bridge.

Besides, land acquisition as well as finding huge soil for the expansion would create more problems for the project, he added.

"Investment in road infrastructure must be sustainable from an economic point of view. Fattening the highway would not be a solution for the Dhaka-Chattogram highway," he told the FE over phone.

Though its alignment was finalised and detailed design work began, the project has been shelved all of a sudden in 2019 due to instructions from the high-ups, sources said.

They alleged that due to not taking timely steps, not only the costs of the projects are increasing but also time of completion takes longer.

The RHD, however, has recently decided to revive the project work to upgrade the economic corridor amid increased traffic and witnessing congestion at different points on the highway, they said.

The FE correspondent found the condition of the total 234km corridor is in a deplorable condition as the RHD has been carrying out maintenance with only some temporary works on the top surface.

According to the officials, the rough cost was estimated from separate proposals sent by its zonal offices under the Dhaka-Chattogram highway - Dhaka, Narayanganj, Cumilla and Chattogram zones.

After assessing the proposals, they said the RHD has been planning to carry the entire 234km corridor from Katchpur Bridge as it is crossing Dhaka, Narayangannj, Munshiganj, Cumilla, Feni as well as a good portion in Chattogram area.

Though the RHD owns most part of the roadside land, they said, more land would be required to make the highway effective.

The RHD took the Dhaka-Chattogram Expressway project with funding from the Asian Development Bank shortly after the completion of the four-lane project,

According to the feasibility study, the 224.64km expressway via Narayanganj, Cumilla and Feni would be a paid elevated and graded highway with an access-control system.

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