Challenges still exist in completing construction of the First Dhaka Elevated Expressway (FDEE) from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA) to Shonir Akhra of the Dhaka-Chattogram Highway by next year.
Officials of Italian-Thai Development Public Company said 80.66 per cent progress in its first phase - from HSIA to Tejgaon - has been possible as of April, and there is possibility to open the first 7.45 km for traffic by December.
The US$ 1.2-billion project is being implemented under public private partnership (PPP) initiative. Its overall progress was recorded 44.8 per cent since its commencement in January 2020, they said, mentioning some obstacles in continuing the work after the first phase.
According to the concessionaire agreement - signed between the Bangladesh Bridge Authority (BBA) and the Thai company in 2015, its construction is scheduled to be completed within three and a half years - to collect toll from the 19.7-km elevated road for next 22 years.
The FE correspondent found good progress in infrastructure development from Airport to Tejgaon after two years and five months.
The Thai concessionaire, which has been constructing the remaining part of the DEE in partnership with two Chinese companies, sought assistance from the PPP Authority (PPPA) on Sunday for proper implementation of the project.
PPPA Chief Executive Officer Muhammad Ibrahim and Director General Md Abul Bashar visited the construction site at Kawla in the capital on the day to oversee update of the project's progress.
Officials concerned informed them of some problems, like rearrangement of toll plaza at Hatirjheel-BUET link, Kamlapur Station, and conflict with Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) Line-5 near Kawran Bazar rail-crossing.
Deputy Managing Director (DMD) of Italian-Thai Wang Deng Pan said all necessary equipment of the company are ready, but the government needs to solve these conflicting issues to start the work without delay.
"There is no fiscal or manpower problem… but green signals from the BBA, Bangladesh Railway, Dhaka South City Corporation, and Dhaka Mass Transit Company Limited are needed to speed up the construction work," he added.
The PPPA CEO assured the private investor of solving the issues soon after sitting with all the government agencies concerned.
He said the PPPA has been formed under the Prime Minister's Office as the highest authority to give importance to the PPP projects. As all the agencies involved are from the government side, these problems can be solved following their cooperation.
Deputy Manager of FDEE Company Limited Mostafizur Rahman informed the meeting that construction of the DEE is taking place day and night to inaugurate the first phase.
But he also informed that 118 obstructions are still in the project, and better coordination among all the stakeholders is needed to overcome those.
The elevated expressway will increase traffic capacity within and around the city by improving north-south connectivity and linking important commercial and business centres. It will also reduce travel time as well as provide comfort and convenience to users.
The PPPA CEO said the PPPA and the BBA are working hard to expedite implementation of the project. The initial work is progressing really fast, and the construction should end within the due time.
However, the Italian-Thai DMD said the concessionaire agreement has the scope of time extension for its construction.
The DEE is being constructed in dual two-lane carriageways, which will have 31 ramps, having a length of 26.6 km, to take traffic from different parts of the city.
Some 43 toll booths, eight toll plazas, one central control building, and traffic surveillance system will be established to handle the traffic.
According to the agreement, the private company will share 25 per cent of the profit, if the traffic crosses 80,000 per day.
The DEE project contract was first signed on January 19, 2011. But it was revised for the first time in 2013 and then in 2015 - due to change in alignment, design and fund crunch. The project commencement was finally announced on January 01, 2020.
The project officials said it was also hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
Giving importance to accelerate the project, they added that the DEE will be linked with four other elevated expressways, thus building a good network for easing traffic congestion in the city.