Dhaka elevated expressway: Project stalled for financial, legal disputes

The unfinished section of Dhaka elevated Expressway.Naznin Akhter

The construction of the Dhaka elevated expressway has been at a standstill for several months, mainly due to financial and legal disputes among the stakeholders. 

During a recent visit to the expressway, no construction activities were seen in the portion along the railtrack from Moghbazar to Malibagh on Tuesday. 

Conversations with some locals revealed that the under-construction structures of the expressway have been untouched for the last four months. Hundreds of workers used to work on the construction site, but not a single worker was seen there on the day. 

Only a security guard was found at the expressway's Moghbazar stockyard on Tuesday, contrasting with the 10-12 workers seen three months ago on 2 April. 

Only a few workers were seen to work on the expressway’s Hatirjheel portion on the day. The construction work has been stalled due to disputes over shares among the foreign companies and subsequent complications in receiving bank loans.  

The facility's construction and operating entity, First Dhaka Elevated Expressway (FDEE) Company Limited, admitted that the work has been postponed due to share disputes and fund crisis. 

Responding to an email query, the company hoped that they would be able to resume the construction work by August as they achieved significant advancement in securing funds. 

However, it told Prothom Alo in an earlier email in April that they would manage loans within a short time and complete the project by 30 June.  

The elevated expressway spans 19.73 kilometers, stretching from Kawla near the Dhaka airport to Kutubkhali on the Dhaka-Chattogram highway, via Kuril, Banani, Mohakhali, Tejgaon, Moghbazar, Kamalapur, Sayedabad, and Jatrabari. 

The portion from Kawla to the Bangladesh Film Development Corporation (BFDC) has so far been constructed, while works on the remaining portion have been stalled.

The FDEE has several workstations and stockyards at Kawla, Moghbazar, and Kamalapur, to operate the construction works. Of them, the Kawla stockyard has been shut since February, while the remaining ones since March. 

A vested quarter allegedly spread rumours that the works have been postponed due to a court order. However, the FDEE claimed it to be false and clarified that the court only stayed the transfer of shares and did not order a work stoppage.

The bridge authority said the contractors operating under the FDEE have been instructed to fix the disputes and resume the construction works quickly.  

It is a public-private partnership (PPP) project, involving two companies from China and one from Thailand, alongside the Bangladesh government. The three foreign companies are – Italian-Thai Development Public Company Limited, China Shandong International Economic  and Technical Cooperation Group, and Sinohydro Corporation Limited.