The Financial Express

Over Tk40b misspent on misconceived BRT route!

| Updated: January 21, 2022 16:55:35

Work on the Dhaka Elevated Expressway has gained pace lately after long delays. The photo was taken from Banani on the Airport Road on Thursday — FE photo by KAZ Sumon Work on the Dhaka Elevated Expressway has gained pace lately after long delays. The photo was taken from Banani on the Airport Road on Thursday — FE photo by KAZ Sumon

A fat sum of over Tk 40 billion is deemed misspent on a misconceived BRT line as officials say the Joydevpur - Airport corridor has been difficult to develop as dedicated bus corridor for surging traffic of 21 districts and industries.

In a do-over-again expensive exercise the government is now considering building alternative routes to divert the mounting traffic that virtually hits an impasse to the north of the capital, Dhaka.

Sources say the move proves 'faulty' the study and investment of more than Tk 40 billion on the 21- kilometre corridor for bus rapid transit (BRT) line with expansion plan of existing road to eight lanes for highway and mixed traffic.

"Now billions of taka is being planned to suppress the fault',' says one analyst.

Official sources say Road Transport and Highways Division (RTHD) has decided to go for study to develop new roads on Dhaka-Mymensign line for diverting north-bound traffic.

Dhaka Zonal office of Roads and Highways Department (RHD) has already started survey on building the road from Dhour Morh to Gazipur Chourasta and from Kodda Morh to Shalna.

It also plans to upgrade a road of Gazipur City Corporation up to Tongi rail-station to ease traffic situation.

RTHD secretary Nazrul Islam said traffic congestion on Joydevpur-Airport (Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport-HSIA) corridor wouldn't be lessened at desired level even after development of BRT on the road if traffic of 21 districts cannot be diverted.

"BRT is developed to carry passengers between two cities. But expansion of road cannot solve traffic demand totally, " he told the FE at his office to dispel allegation of misuse of public money.

The secretary, however, admits that BRT on this corridor was a wrong decision.

However, Dhaka Zone Additional Chief Engineer Mohammad Sobuj Uddin Khan said initially RHD had tried to develop alternative road along the rail corridor but could not do it for not getting Bangladesh Railway's permission.

He thinks as development of north - south corridor parallel to the Dhaka -Mymensingh highway involves huge cost, the alternative roads can cut time and construction pains.

"Rhd has developed road from Gabtoli and it is relatively easy to carry rest part which is total 16 km," he told the FE over phone.

Meanwhile, RHD initiated developing the BRT corridor after a feasibility study in 2012 by the Asian Development Bank. But the study had shown viable linking it with BRT 3 which was to develop from Jhilmil tp HSIA.

The first project was, however, shelved by the government after facing pain in developing the BRT corridor from Joydebpur.

Moreover, the RHD project could not be implemented in time due to awarding the work to Chinese companies at much lower than estimated price

Sources say inept tender documentation has also landed the project office in dilemmas over carrying out the work by managing modern equipment all round the day.

Though the RHD declares completing the BRT corridor by December this year, project officials as well as ministry officials also are in doubt about meeting the target.

Sources say the road gets 60,000 traffic trips per day now and the RHD new road development would not be done in a year or two as those projects will also need land acquision.

Various multilateral development- financing agencies and analysts say traffic congestions in and around the populous capital city of Dhaka and other megacities cost Bangladesh heavily in lost GDP besides encumbering normal life.

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