Elevated Expressway: FDEE seeks to raise toll

Dhaka Elevated ExpresswayFile photo

The number of vehicles using the Dhaka Elevated Expressway is increasing gradually and the amount of toll collection is also going up.

On an average, over 42,000 vehicles travelled through the expressway and Tk 3 million was collected as toll every day between 1 and 21 February, said the expressway’s executing organisation Bangladesh Bridge Authority and the investment organisation First Dhaka Elevated Expressway (FDEE) Company Limited.

The expressway had an average daily movement of around 30,000 vehicles during the inaugural month in September while the average toll collection per day was Tk 2.44 million, said an information of the two organisations.

The toll for private cars, taxis, sports utility vehicles (SUVs), microbuses (less than 16 seats) and light trucks (less than 3 tonnes) on the expressway is Tk 80. And, the toll for all types of buses (16 or more seats) is Tk 160 while the toll for movement of a medium truck (up to 6 wheelers) is Tk 320. The toll for trucks with more than 6 wheels is Tk 400.

Despite the increase in traffic and toll collection on the elevated expressway, investment company FDEE thinks that it is still not at a satisfactory level. According to the company, movement of an average of 50,000 vehicles per day will generate the desired revenue. In this context, the FDEE wants to send a proposal to the government to increase the toll.

Meanwhile, the bridge authority has sent a letter to the FDEE to install an electronic toll collection (ETC) system by April this year to reduce the long queue of vehicles at the toll booths of the expressway during peak hours.

This major public-private partnership (PPP) project is named ‘Dhaka Elevated Expressway PPP Project’.

According to project information, the investors under FDEE Company Limited are Thailand-based Italian Thai Development Public Company Limited (51 per cent share), China-based China Shandong International Economic and Technical Cooperation Group (34 per cent share) and Sinohydro Corporation Limited (15 per cent share).

Bangladesh Bridge Authority is the executing organisation.

Income in 6 months

According to the Bangladesh Bridge Authority and FDEE Company Limited, a total of 836,347 vehicles used the expressway in the first month of inauguration in September last year and the collected toll amount was Tk 68.4 million. In October, the number of vehicles and toll amount increased to over 925,000 and over Tk 75 million. In November both decreased due to strikes and blockades at a stretch. In December last year, the number of vehicles and toll amount spiked to over 1.07 million and over Tk 87.5 million. In January this year, the numbers were over 1.1 million (nearly 35,500 vehicles per day) and over Tk 90 million.

Dhaka Elevated Expressway
File photo

The length of the main expressway is 19.73 km and the estimated construction cost is Tk 89.4 billion. The route of this expressway covers Kawla to the south of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, Kuril, Banani, Mohakhali, Tejgaon, Moghbazar, Kamalapur, Sayedabad, Jatrabari, and Kutubkhali on Dhaka-Chattogram highway.

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the section from Kawla to Tejgaon (11.5 km) on 2 September in 2023. That section of the expressway was opened to traffic movement on the following day (3 September).

According to the agreement, the investment firm will design and finance the construction, and operate and maintain the elevated expressway once it is open to traffic. Then they will handover the expressway to the Bangladesh government after 25 years. Before that they will realise the invested money and its interest through the toll collection.

According to the agreement with the investors, a maximum of about 80,000 vehicles could use the expressway every day. If over 80,000 vehicles operate on the expressway every day, then Bangladesh will get 25 per cent of the additional toll.

According to sources, the investment company was forced to open part of the expressway before the 12th parliamentary elections. In this situation, the desired income of ​​the investment company would be generated if at least 50,000 vehicles run a day.

Dhaka Elevated Expressway
File photo

Speaking about this, Bangladesh Bridge Authority Chief Engineer Quazi Md Ferdaus told Prothom Alo on 12 February that there has been no discussion yet on how many years the investment company would take to hand over the expressway to the government in case of partial opening.

The agreement says that as compensation, the investor company should be given an opportunity to collect tolls for some more time than the agreement delineates if the average daily traffic is less than 13,500 vehicles for 15 consecutive days, he added.

However, Quazi Md Ferdaus pointed out no such situation has appeared yet and both the traffic and the toll collection are increasing.

Meanwhile, Managing Director of the First Dhaka Elevated Expressway (FDEE) Company Limited, Bhaskon Khannabha, does not think Tk 80 is sufficient as the lowest amount of toll.

Speaking to Prothom Alo at his office on 17 February, he said, “We are happy as the people are happy using the elevated expressway. But the toll collection in this big project with such a huge investment will have to be more. Time is valuable. Those who use the expressway can understand it. They can afford to pay more tolls.”

Bhaskon Khannabha also said that initially the minimum toll was fixed at Tk 150 but they changed the minimum toll to Tk 80 as the Bangladesh government objected to the initial amount. They thought it was necessary to increase the toll and informed the bridge authority about this.

The bridge authority, however, has not commented on this yet. They want to send a proposal to the government in this regard. But no written proposal has been sent yet.

* The report has been rewritten in English by Shameem Reza