The Roads and Highways Department (RHD) could not start the construction work to upgrade the Elenga-Hatikumrul-Rangpur highway to four-lane even after completion of the tender process.
The start of the four-lane project is being delayed as the RHD has yet to get control of the land required to widen the 190-kilometre highway, sources said.
The department has completed the tender process for all packages of the project except one, but there is no progress in both the land acquisition process and the utility shifting work along the highway, they added.
Usually, the RHD owns the lands along all its highways, but in this case, it has to acquire 80 per cent of 273 hectares of land for the highway upgrade project, the sources said.
Only the land on both sides of the Bangabandhu Jamuna Bridge is under RHD's control, but the signing of contract for this package, out of a total of eight packages, is yet to be completed, they said.
However, the notice of commence, a permission required to start the construction, has been issued for other packages since March.
The RHD has taken the Tk 118.99 billion Elenga-Hatikamrul-Rangpur upgrade project as part of its move to develop a regional corridor under the Asian Highway, the South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) and BIMSTEC.
The RHD has so far completed four-lane upgrade work on Dhaka-Chittagong, Dhaka-Mymensingh and Tangail-Elenga highways as part of the government's target to turn all naitonal highways into four lane.
Under the SASEC-I, the surface road widening work on Tangail-Elenga four-lane was completed recently.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has extended major support to develop the entire corridor from Rangpur to Tangail.
The feasibility study and detailed design work for Elenga-Hatikamrul-Rangpur highway were completed in 2015.
According to the development project proposal, this part of the regional corridor is supposed to be ready by 2022.
RHD officials said Tk 1.2 billion has already been paid to the Deputy Commissioners of Sirajganj, Bogura and Gaibandha districts for land acquisition for the project but the department has yet to get control of the land.
Also, the RHD paid Tk 345.5 million to various departments and agencies to carry out the utility shifting work, but none of them started to do so, they said.
Under the project, RHD will have to develop separate lane for slow-moving traffic, three flyovers, one railway overpass, 1.5 km interchange at Hatikamrul and 38 underpasses, apart from the four-lane main carriageway in next three-and-a-half years.
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