Inauguration of the first ever high-speed elevated expressway in Dhaka is a milestone event in the history of Bangladesh’s road communication. It has a length of 19.73 kilometres.
Prime minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the section from Kawla near Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport to Tejgaon on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the section from Tejgaon to Kutubkhali of Dhaka-Chattogram highway near Jatrabari via Moghbazar and Kamalapur will be opening in June next year. We welcome this new era of road communication.
As per the design, maximum speed for vehicles on the elevated expressway is 80 kilometres per hour. The government, however, has set a maximum speed limit of 60 kilometres for the time being on the Kawla to Tejgaon section.
Once the entire route is opened, it will take only 20 minutes to cross it on a vehicle, and it would take a mere 12 minutes to travel from Kawla to Tejgaon.
If the construction of the expressway began in 2015, eight years have already passed since then. Alongside increasing project period, the authorities have constantly increased the expenses also
According to bridges division information, eight types of vehicles - bus, minibus, microbus, sedan, sports utility vehicle (SUV, better known as Jeep), several models of goods-carrying truck and pick-ups - are allowed to move on the elevated expressway.
Vehicle owners would have to pay a toll of minimum Tk 80 to maximum Tk 400 to use the expressway. Motorcycles, CNG-run auto-rickshaws and other three-wheelers and bicycles cannot use the expressway.
This project of Dhaka Elevated Expressway is being implemented by Bangladesh bridges division on the basis of joint investment under public private partnership (PPP).
Three companies from Thailand and China are bearing 73 per cent of the construction cost while Bangladesh is providing the remaining 27 per cent.
According to the contract, the investors will collect their investment and profit from the toll earnings in 25 years (excluding the 3.5 years’ construction period). In other words, Bangladesh will regain ownership of the expressway after 25 years.
Notably, the government back in 2005 approved a 20-year Strategic Transport Plan (STP) for Dhaka that included various proposals for the construction of metrorail, elevated expressway, ring road and so on.
This was revised in 2015, based on which the government is implementing this transport plan in and around Dhaka to eliminate the traffic congestion in the capital city. The Dhaka Elevated Expressway is a part of that plan.
Earlier, the metrorail was also opened in Dhaka in the section from Uttara to Agargaon. In this city of nonstop traffic congestion, the metrorail and the expressway will undoubtedly bring comfort to commuters.
However, the number of such commuters is not that much. A vast amount of people would still remain outside of these two transport system. The population of Dhaka city keeps growing every day.
So the issue of transport should be considered under the light of an overall urbanisation plan. Alongside faster transportation, other civic facilities, including residence, have to be ensured as well. Plus, the stream of Dhaka-bound people has to be controlled.
If the construction of the expressway began in 2015, eight years have already passed since then. Alongside increasing project period, the authorities constantly increased the expenses.
While many projects remained shut for two years due to coronavirus, construction of the metrorail and the expressway continued. It certainly would not be wrong to seek an explanation from the authorities regarding such a long delay despite that.
We expect for the remaining work of the expressway and the metro rail to complete on time.