The government has initiated the process of tolling national highways following the prime minister's advice, said Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader, reports bdnews24.com.
On Sept 3, Sheikh Hasina advised the relevant agencies to impose tolls on all national highways.
"The government is firm on the decision. The prime minister herself has announced it," Quader told reporters as they asked if the government was adamant on the issue.
"Almost all countries in the world have a tolling system, especially for four-lane, six-lane and eight-lane highways. Why will Bangladesh be an exception?"
"The highways need to be maintained as they become potholed due to overload. They need to be mended,” Quader said justifying the government's decision.
Quader was asked to comment on if there will be an adverse effect on the economy.
"You are travelling the same distance in three hours which you used to travel in eight hours earlier. How much time are you saving? I don't think anyone would suffer from it," he said.
Quader said the ministry and BRTA have begun the process of fixing “reasonable” tolls to be collected from highway users.
“They are drafting a policy on the rules and toll amount. The ministry is working on it.”
The government will consult the other stakeholders before finalising the tolling system, he added.
However, not all national highways will come under the tolling system, the minister said.
"Four-lane, six-lane and eight-lane national highways will fall under the system. It won't be justified if we bring the district highways under the tolling system.”
"We are focusing on introducing tolls on the four-lane highways. At present there are four to five such highways,” Quader said.
The Dhaka-Mawa-Bhanga expressway will be inaugurated soon. Dhaka-Elenga, Joydebpur-Elenga highway will be constructed soon. There will be another four-lane highway from Elenga to Rangpur.
“The BNP has never made any four-lane highway during its tenure and, therefore, has no idea about it,” the minister said in response to the BNP's criticism of the decision.
The government is yet to decide on tolls on the Padma Bridge, said Quader.