The government yesterday signed a contract with a China-Bangladesh consortium to upgrade the 48km Dhaka Bypass Road to a dual carriageway to improve connectivity between the country's north and northwest parts and the Chattogram Port.
This is the first public private partnership (PPP) project of the Roads and Highways Department (RHD) and once completed, it will be the first toll road in the country, officials said.
As per the deal, the expansion of the highway will start within nine months and it will require three years to complete. It will be fully operational within 2022, they said.
The estimated cost of the project is Tk 3,039 crore. The government will provide Tk 224 crore of the cost. Vehicles will have to pay toll to use the four-lane highway -- Joydevpur-Debogram-Bhulta-Madanpur (commonly known as Dhaka Bypass Road).
The road connects the Joydevpur-Tangail National Highway (N-4), Dhaka- Chattogram National Highway (N-1), Dhaka-Sylhet National Highway (N-2), Dhaka-Mymensingh National Highway (N-3) along with some regional highways and district roads.
Buses, trucks and other vehicles will be able to easily travel from northern and western parts of the country to eastern and southern parts without entering Dhaka city.
The contract was inked between the RHD and a consortium of three companies at a hotel in the capital. The companies are Sichuan Road and Bridge (Group) Corporation Ltd of China, and Shamim Enterprise (Pvt) Ltd and UDC Corporation Ltd of Bangladesh.
RHD Chief Engineer Ebne Alam Hasan on behalf of the government, and Zhao Fang for Sichuan, Aminul Haque for Shamim Enterprise, and Kalam Hossain for UDC signed the deal.
The project includes designing, building, financing, operating, and maintaining the road by the private partner for a concession period of 25 years.
The highway will have modern equipment such as central control and command centre, variable message signs, full length CCTV coverage and intelligent cameras for traffic count and classifications installed.
Nazrul Islam, secretary of the road transport and highways division, said upgrading a road to an expressway was very expensive. It was not possible for the government alone to do that job. So, private investment under the PPP was very important.
Abul Kalam Azad, principal coordinator for sustainable development goals affairs at the Prime Minister's Office, said this was the biggest ever project under the PPP and asked the consortium to maintain timeframe and quality strictly.
Nojibur Rahman, principal secretary to the prime minister, said the project was very important for the country.
Syed Afsor H Uddin, chief executive officer of the PPP Authority, and representatives of the companies also spoke at the signing ceremony.