The Roads and Highways Department (RHD) has undertaken Dhaka-Sylhet road development project at a high cost, proposing Tk 821.14 million for widening each kilometre of the highways, insiders said on Wednesday.
The state entity has recently sought approval of the Tk 171.62-billion cost project from the Planning Commission (PC) for widening the 209.33-km Dhaka (Kanchpur)-Sylhet National Highways (N2) into a four-lane one, they said.
The PC project evaluation committee (PEC) in early this week gave green signal to it, recommending rationalisation of cost in some components of the project, said the Ministry of Road Transport and Bridges.
"We have already scrutinised the development project proposal (DPP). The committee has asked the RHD to recast the DPP for rationalising the cost," said a PC official.
When asked about high cost, a senior RHD official told the FE that the Dhaka-Sylhet road project will utilise Polymer Modified Bitumen instead of traditional ones, Wet Mix Macadam (WMM) for base course and Concrete Type-C for construction work.
It has enhanced cost of the project than other ongoing road development projects, he said, requesting for anonymity.
The Manila-based lender Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide lion's share of the cost for the road upgradation project from its SASEC (South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation) initiative funds.
Of the proposed cost, the ADB has assured of providing Tk 136.12 billion (US$1.6 billion), and the government will provide the remaining Tk 35.50 billion from its internal resources.
"We have already discussed the issue of getting funds for the project with the ADB. The lender has assured us of bankrolling the project," he added.
The Dhaka-Sylhet road is one of the important corridors for regional transport, as it is linked with the Asian highways, BIMSTEC corridor, and SAARC highway corridor.
The road will connect India, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar for cross-border traffic movement and trade promotion.
The RHD has proposed to complete the road upgradation work by December 2026.
Another RHD official said they will upgrade the 209.33-km highway into a four-lane one and also construct 5.5-metre wide slow-moving vehicular traffic (SMVT) lanes on both sides of the road with fence between the main road and the service lane, 66 bridges, 12 overpasses, and 26 foot-over bridges.
"Soon after getting approval of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC), we will appoint contractors for upgrading the Dhaka-Sylhet highways," he added.
Meanwhile, the RHD will also upgrade the Sylhet-Tamabil highway, last part of the N2, into a four-lane one with support of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
The state developer has already taken up another project for widening the 56-km Sylhet-Tamabil road up to the India frontier.
The ECNEC approved the project at a cost of Tk 35.86 billion in September.