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Dhaka Elevated Expressway: Will make north-south traffic smoother

PM Opens Airport-Farmgate Portion Today

by tbhdesk

The long wait for hassle-free and seamless north-south road connectivity in the capital is going to end today with the inauguration of a key part of the Dhaka Elevated Expressway being constructed as part of Bangladesh’s strides to ease traffic chaos in the city.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will finally open the 11.5km Airport-Farmgate portion of the country’s first-ever elevated expressway stretching 19.73km from Kawla near Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport to Kutubkhali on the Dhaka-Chattogrm Highway, which saw a delay for over a decade.

Once in operation, the four-lane overhead expressway is expected to drastically slash the travel time in this stretch of the capital city, known for notorious traffic gridlock, to only 10 minutes from over an hour alongside saving cost of fuel as well as protecting the environment.
The much-awaited project had to go through financing problem, change in design and land acquisition complications for nearly a decade. Finally, its opening is going to bring smile to the faces of the city dwellers who have to spend hours in traffic jam.

“The project will definitely contribute a lot to north-south connectivity in the capital and have a substantial impact on traffic management as it’ll create additional road space in the city,” Bridges Division Secretary Md Monjur Hossain told the Daily Sun.

The total length of the Airport-Farmgate section is 22.5km, including the length of 15 ramps. “So, the expressway will help distribute the existing traffic, contributing to easing the nagging gridlock.”

Echoing Monjur, Project Director AHM Shakhawat Akter said: “It’ll actually create an overhead road parallel to existing roads that will accommodate a great number of vehicles. Even, the ramps will help lower pressure on city roads, particularly in the north-south corridor.”

Even after paying the toll, a huge number of people will find using the expressway lucrative because it will help save fuel and most importantly time which is considered valuable in modern time, the Bridges Division secretary explained.

“Time is very valuable now. We’ve noticed it after the inauguration of the Padma Bridge,” he pointed out.
However, the elevated expressway is opening to traffic today with 13 ramps out of 15 without the ones at Banani and Mohakhali as those are not fully ready, Monjur said.

For ensuring faster movement on the expressway, the plying of motorbikes and three-wheelers will remain banned.

This will allow other vehicles to run at 80km per hour. However, the initial speed limit will be 60km per hour. People have to pay toll ranging from Tk 80 to Tk 400 depending on vehicles’ category for using the expressway.

A car, taxi, jeep, SUV, microbus (under 16 seats) and light truck (below three tonnes) will have to pay Tk 80, a medium-sized truck (up to six wheels) Tk 320, truck (with over six wheels) Tk 400 and all types of buses (16 seats and above) Tk 160 as toll to get on the expressway.

Monjur believes that people will get full benefit when the entire expressway up to Kutubkhali will come into operation and another under-construction Dhaka-Ashulia Elevated Expressway joins it at Airport.

The people coming from Gazipur using Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) having a 4.5km flyover will also equally benefit from the elevated expressway.

The project is being implemented in three phases: Airport to Banani, Banani to Moghbazar and Moghbazar to Kutubkhali.

So far, the total project has seen overall 66 percent progress with the first phase fully complete and substantial progress made in the second and third phases, the project director said, adding that the whole establishment will complete by June 2024.

Additionally, it is going to be a big show of Public-Private Partnership (PPP) project in Bangladesh that will help rope in more such investment both from home and abroad, according to project officials and analysts.

“It has been the largest PPP project so far. It’ll be a milestone for PPP projects in Bangladesh,” said PD Shakhawat.

The expressway will help lower pressure on the national budget, he said, citing that maximum countries of the world implement infrastructure projects under PPP.

The government had signed a deal with Italian-Thai company for implementing the project on the PPP basis at a cost of Tk 89.40 billion.

After facing a financing problem, the contractor sold 34 percent share to Chinese company China Shandong International Economic and Technical Cooperation Group and 15 percent share to another Chinese company Sinohydro Corporation Ltd in 2020.

The government is providing Tk 24.13 billion as viability gap funding while the private partner will bear the rest. Besides, the government is spending Tk 49.18 billion on land acquisition, resettlement and relocation of utility service lines.

In reply to a question, the Bridges Division secretary admitted that the expressway might create some jam at some descending points, but he thinks efficient traffic management can resolve that problem.

Transport sector expert Prof Shamsul Hoque apprehended that the absence of automated toll payment system can in turn create chaos at toll points.

He suggested electronic toll payment system to avoid the tailback at the entry points.

The government first planned the expressway in 2010 and signed a revised deal with Italian-Thai Development Public Company to build the expressway.

But the scheme hobbled for years because of the failure of the private investor to manage funds for the project and problems related to land acquisition, said officials involved in the project.

The formal construction commencement date is January 1, 2020, the date which marks the beginning of 25 years concession era, including three and a half years construction period. The foreign investors will take money from toll for 25 years.

Source: The Daily SUN.


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