The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) on Tuesday approved a Tk 169.19 billion South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Dhaka-Sylhet Corridor Road Development project in a bid to ensure overall economic development by improving regional road connectivity.
The approval came from the 22nd ECNEC meeting of the current fiscal year (FY21) held with ECNEC chairperson and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair, reports BSS.
The premier chaired the meeting virtually from Ganabhaban while ministers, state ministers and secretaries concerned joined the meeting from the NEC Conference Room in the city’s Sher-e-Bangla Nagar area.
Briefing reporters after the meeting, Planning Minister MA Mannan said the Roads and Highways Department under the Road Transport and Highways Division will implement the SASEC corridor project by December 2026.
"Out of the total project cost of Tk 169.19 billion, Taka 132.45 billion will come from the ADB as loan while Taka 36.74 billion from the government of Bangladesh," the minister said.
The main objectives of the project are to upgrade the 209.328 kilometres Dhaka-Sylhet highway into four-lane alongside two service lanes on both sides of the highway for slow moving vehicles, straitening the existing curves of the highway, building necessary U-loops, intersections, and thus ensuring speedy and uninterrupted vehicular movement.
The main project operations include 24.54 million cubic metre of earth work, 7.3 million cubic metre flexible pavement, 292,000 cubic metre flexible concrete pavement on service lanes, construction of 305 culverts, 66 bridges, seven flyovers, six railway over bridges, 26 foot over bridges.
The minister said the SASEC corridor will improve the country’s road connectivity with Nepal, India, Myanmar and China. “It’s very important that we’re looking towards the East internationally.”
The planning minister said, citing the prime minister, said once the SASEC corridor project is implemented, tolls will be realised.
He hoped that the project cost would be realised within 15 years after the start of collecting tolls.
Mannan also informed that the prime minister also suggested for keeping ‘earmark accounts’ in order to ensure necessary maintenance works of roads and highways.
The minister said the perception and directive of the premier regarding tolls is that – “the day for delivering services free of cost is over”. This means the country’s people would have to come out from the culture of receiving services without paying any amount.
The prime minister also renewed her directive to realise tolls on the major highways.
Besides, she also ordered the Roads and Highways Department to construct necessary rest houses, coffee shops with wash rooms, changing rooms for women along the big highways like Dhaka-Chattogram and Dhaka-Sylhet roads.
Replying to another question, Planning Commission member Mamun Al Rashid said the per cubic meter construction cost under the SASEC corridor project would be less than the cost under Elenga-Katikumrul highway development project.