The Roads and Highways Department (RHD) is likely to bring the Dhaka-Mawa highway under toll system simultaneously with the Padma Bridge after its inauguration, officials said.
They said the department has decided to delay the process of imposing tolls for the 55-kilometre access control highway from Jatrabari in Dhaka to Panchchor in Jashore district due to being unable to complete the infrastructure works.
Although the finance division has already approved a toll of Tk 10 per kilometre for a medium truck, Tk 2.5 for private car and Tk 9 for bus, the RHD officials said they were now considering revising the rates after the inauguration of the country's longest bridge over Padma river.
Earlier, the RHD had announced to impose the tolls on the expressway from July 1 after the Ministry of Road Transport and Bridges gave its nod on the toll rates.
"It is not possible to charge the toll from July 1 as the service lanes are not yet ready," said additional chief engineer of Dhaka Division Sabuj Uddin Khan, explaining the reason behind the delay.
The service lanes must be made ready as the toll-free roads for other vehicles.
He, however, said the coronavirus pandemic has affected the project work.
Sources said the RHD also needs to settle some issues with other government agencies working on the same corridor before bringing the expressway under the toll system.
Bangladesh Bridge Division and Bangladesh Railway have been working on the corridor to build a 6.15 kilometre road-cum-rail bridge and rail lines on both sides of the bridge.
The RHD has prepared the toll rate for the Dhaka-Mawa expressway based on its toll policy 2014 and assessing the rates of the three existing bridges in between the highway.
According to the policy, it proposed to collect Tk 544.5 from a medium size truck calculating per km rate at Tk 9.9. But the rate was later made a round figure and proposed Tk 10 at the finance division's meeting. The rate for a medium size truck will now beTk 550.
According to the approved rate of the finance division, toll for a private car is likely to be Tk 137.5 and bus Tk 500.
Sources said as the government has been facing a fund crunch due to the ongoing pandemic situation, the expressway work has also been hampered.
Besides, they said the issues needed to be settled with the BR and BBA are to be placed at inter-ministerial meetings which were being delayed due to the lockdown.
Considering the overall situation, it seems that imposition of the toll would not be possible before the inauguration of the Padma Bridge, said the additional chief engineer.
He also said that as the decision was there to review the toll rate after the inauguration of the Padma Bridge, the RHD might not introduce the approved toll for the interim period.
The Padma Multipurpose Bridge connecting the Dhaka-Mawa-Panchor expressway is scheduled to be opened for traffic by June 2022.