China would assist Bangladesh in formulating the country's next highway master plan, highly placed sources said.
"The previous plan was formulated in 2009. Now we need another one," a senior official at the Ministry of Road Transportation and Bridges told the FE.
"We will have a meeting in this regard soon and an agreement may be signed with China in this regard," said the official, preferring anonymity.
Bangladesh and China have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to implement such project under the Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation signed on April 7, 2016.
In 2019, China had agreed to fund the project titled Planning the Highway Transportation Network of Bangladesh and proposed to sign a 'letter of exchange' for the project.
As Bangladesh is yet to respond to the proposal, recently another letter was sent to expedite the process, officials of the concerned ministry said.
According to the previous decision, the Chinese side will dispatch technical personnel to undertake on-site investigation, measurement and research work needed for the planning work and formulating the final planning of the highway transportation network of Bangladesh.
The Bangladesh side will provide basic information of the project free of charge, and confirm the technical result of the planning work made by the Chinese side.
According to the MoU, Bangladesh will also provide assistance and convenience on the entry, exit, transportation and residence for the Chinese experts in Bangladesh.
According to officials, the total amount of Tk 94 million for the project will be disbursed by China as grant as stipulated in the Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation.
The highway network plan will be the guiding document for future investment in the road sector and it will be compiled following a thorough diagnosis of the existing problems of the RHD road network, and the future challenges to be faced, officials said.
The plan is likely to address issues like maintenance and vehicle overloading, traffic growth that will exceed the capacity of many national highways, mix of motorised and non-motorised traffic, encroachment onto roads, connecting country's rural centres with the main road network.
According to officials, the main objectives of such plan are to set out a comprehensive investment programme that will protect the value of RHD's road and bridge assets; improve the connectivity of the road network; enhance and develop the strategic road network to meet economic and traffic growth targets; and improve the Zila road network to enhance connectivity to the country's growth centres.