Government authorities move to revive a dormant project for developing over 200-km expressway in Bangladesh's prime Dhaka-Chattogram corridor, sources say, now that even the upgraded highway is getting clogged.
Roads and Highways Department (RHD) suspended the Tk 933.5 billion Dhaka-Chattogram expressway project at the design stage after completing the feasibility study following a directive from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) in 2019.
But, the sources say, Road Transport and Highways Division (RTHD) wants to restart the project and request the PMO for resuming it considering growing importance of the project in managing increased traffic in the country's prime economic and trade corridor.
Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Authority has also been receiving various proposals from the interested investors to work in the PPP project.
An official says during the last three years, more than 10 Chinese companies have shown interest in the project and the number is also increasing in recent days.
"Being economic lifeline of the country, the Dhaka-Chattogram highway traffic is increasing day by day, same as maintenance of the existing four-lane highway is also becoming difficult due to damage caused by heavy load of traffic," another official says.
Preferring not to be named, he notes that the RHD project taken to maintain the highway is not enough to tackle the traffic and that if the steps are not taken immediately, the corridor may get saturated again and cause suffering to hundreds of thousands of users.
The RHD, which completed the Dhaka-Chattogram four-lane project in 2016, has now been implementing another project to carry out maintenance work on the Dhaka-Chattogram highway at a cost of Tk 7.40 billion.
Though initially, the completion of the four-lane-highway project had given relief to the users, they already started facing several traffic congestions at different points of the corridor. The jams make them take more than seven hours in travelling the road which had been reduced to five hours when the four-lane project completed.
The RHD took the Dhaka-Chattogram Expressway project with the funding of the Asian Development Bank shortly after the completion of the four-lane project. After the feasibility study, it selected the route en-route Narayanganj, Cumilla and Feni to develop the 224.64km access-control paid highway in both elevated and grade way.
But the project was jettisoned after spending over Tk 1.0 billion as the government considered another billion-dollar bullet-train project more important than the expressway.
However, the RTHD held a meeting with its secretary in the chair on Wednesday to review the entire gamut of issues and decided to have a meeting with the PMO to convince them about giving the go to the PPP project.
An official attending the meeting told the FE that "fresh feasibility study has also become necessary as various changes like new connectivity of regional roads with the highway have also been found at different points".