Prime minister Sheikh Hasina today inaugurated the much-awaited 11.5-km Dhaka Elevated Expressway's Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport-Farmgate section for traffic that is expected to significantly reduce the city's traffic congestion.
She unveiled the nameplate of the expressway at Kawla end of the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport here. A prayer was later offered seeking welfare of the country and the people.
Earlier, the prime minister paid the toll at Kawla end where road transport and bridges minister Obaidul Quader received Sheikh Hasina and her younger sister Sheikh Rehana on their arrival. After the inauguration, the colorful balloons were released.
Executive director of the Bangladesh Bridges Authority and secretary of the Bridges Division Md. Monjur Hossain gave a brief description of the project.
After opening the expressway at Kawla end, the PM Sheikh Hasina departed for the Old Trade Fair Ground at Sher-e-Bangla Nagar to attend a civic rally marking the grand opening of the Dhaka Elevated Expressway in the afternoon.
The Airport-Farmgate section will be opened to traffic Sunday, the next day of the formal inauguration, officials added.
The length of this section is about 11.5 km. There are 15 ramps for boarding. Out of these, two ramps at Banani and Mohakhali will remain closed for the time being. The maximum speed limit for traffic on the expressway will be 60 km per hour.
Three wheelers, bicycles and pedestrians will not be allowed to move on the expressway, while motorbikes cannot run on it right now.
Earlier, the road transport and bridges ministry fixed the toll rates for the Dhaka Elevated Expressway's Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport-Farmgate section ranging from Tk 80 to Tk 400.
Under category 1, the toll rate for car, taxi, jeep, sports utility vehicle, microbus (below 16 seats) and light truck (below 3 tonnes) for crossing the airport-Farmgate section from any point is Tk 80.
The toll rate for medium trucks (up to six wheels) for crossing the route from any point is Tk 320 under category 2.
Under category 3, the toll rate for trucks (over six wheels) for crossing the route from any point is Tk 400. The toll rate for any bus (16 seated or above) for crossing the route from any point is Tk 160 under category 4.
The total length of the elevated expressway is 46.73km covering Kawla, Kuril, Banani, Mohakhali, Tejgaon, Moghbazar, Kamalapur, Sayedabad, Jatrabari to Kutubkhali on the Dhaka-Chattogram highway.
Initially, the speed limit on the expressway will be 60km per hour and vehicles need 10 minutes to travel the 11km distance from the HSIA to Farmgate.
With an 11.5km mainline and 11km ramp, the length of the part will be 22.5km. Initially, 13 out of 15 ramps in this part will be opened. The ramps at Banani and Mohakhali will be opened once their construction is complete.
The total expenditure of the project is estimated at Tk 89.40 billion, while the viability gap funding is Tk 24.13 billion, which will be provided by the Bangladesh government.
The first Dhaka Elevated Expressway (FDEE) Company Ltd is the investor company. Italian Thai Development Public Company Ltd has 51 per cent shares, China Shandong International Economic and Technical Co-operation Group (CSI) holds 34 per cent while Sinohydro Corporation Ltd 15 per cent shares.
As per the project, the first contract was signed on 19 January, 2011 and the reviewed agreement was signed 15 December, 2013 and the project completion period was July 2011-June 2024.
Construction of the second phase Banani railway station to Moghbazar railway crossing is progressing fast.
In the last 15 years, several infrastructure projects have been initiated in Bangladesh. Considering the size, budget, and economic impact, many of these projects have been termed mega-projects.
The government has also identified a few of them as fast-track projects. Among these, the Padma Multipurpose Bridge, Bangladesh's first metro rail project MRT Line-6 and Chandra-Elenga four-lane highway were completed.
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel, the first and longest underwater road tunnel in South Asia, is expected to be ready for traffic soon.
The other projects- Padma Bridge rail link, Chattogram-Cox's Bazar rail link, Rooppur nuclear power plant, Matarbari 1200MW coal-fired power plant, the Payra deep sea port, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Railway Bridge on the river Jamuna are extremely crucial to the country's economic growth and hence the key focus of the government now is their timely completion.
After the Awami League government came to power in 2009, it took up several monumental development projects with the view to transforming the country's communication, transport and power infrastructure.
Prime minister Sheikh Hasina's government has introduced a modern transport system in the country by opening Dhaka Metro Rail and the Padma Multipurpose Bridge and other mega projects.