A delay in taking the decision on the Dhaka-Chittagong expressway project by the finance ministry has compelled the Roads and Highways Department (RHD) to seek support from the PPP Authority to complete the tender process.
Sources said RHD has planned to invite the tender for the US$ 4.12-billion project within a month and sought support from the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Authority to prepare the tender document and complete the evaluation process to select concessionaires.
The PPP Authority will appoint a transaction adviser and carry out the work with its own fund as RHD had to close one of its technical projects without completing the tender process, they added.
Official sources said RHD had no option other than wrapping up its technical project for not getting support from the finance ministry in formulation of the project and fixing the viability gap funding.
Due to unnecessary delay in declaring the viability gap funding, the development partner closed the project without completing the tender process as per the contract signed in 2013, said an official involved with the project.
He, however, said necessary support of the PPP Authority was sought in line with the development partner's guideline as it has also a separate supportive project for the PPP Authority.
RHD has carried out the feasibility study and detailed design work under the $ 10-million technical project funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to construct more than 200-kilometre expressway under the PPP initiative.
Under this project, the expressway was proposed to be constructed almost along the existing corridor both in elevated way and surface road.
But the project first faced an obstruction at design level in 2016 and lost almost a year after the government decided to construct the expressway entirely in elevated way and with high-speed train facility.
It assigned the Bangladesh Bridge Authority (BBA) to conduct the feasibility study which was linked with a US$ 11.0 billion Chinese proposal submitted to the BBA.
In 2017, the finance ministry delayed its decision on the necessity of the expressway for another year just after completion of the Dhaka-Chittagong four-lane highway project.
Later, it also took time for fixing the viability gap funding at 30 per cent of the project construction costs.
RHD officials said the PPP Authority has already selected a transaction adviser for this important project and planned to invite tender at the end of this month or in the first week of next month.
"The project has overcome all its obstacles now. It is expected to continue getting investment smoothly," Project Director Mohammad Ruhul Amin told the FE over phone.
More than 90 per cent of goods are transported through the Dhaka-Chittagong corridor. It is considered an economic lifeline of the country.
The expressway project has been taken up to accommodate an increasing number of vehicles on the country's main corridor which will also be an important regional corridor, including Asian Highway.