Road digging work for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project between Gazipur and Shahjalal International Airport will remain halted till next parliamentary elections in December, to ease people's suffering.
The decision was taken at the 11th board meeting of Dhaka Transport Coordinator Authority (DTCA) yesterday, following instruction of Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader, also chairman of the DTCA board.
“Gazipur is the gateway to our northern districts. If we clog road there in the name of BRT and spend next three months for digging, I would not appreciate it, I would not accept it,” Obaidul Quader told the meeting when DTCA Executive Director Khandakar Rakibur Rahman was speaking about the project.
Implementation process of 20.5km of rapid bus service for mass transport between Gazipur and Shahjalal International Airport started in early 2011. Seven years later, only 20 percent of the job has been completed although the current deadline ends in December, according to project documents. Besides, the original estimated project cost has already more than doubled to Tk 4,264 crore from Tk 2,040 crore.
Quader yesterday said, “As the work will be little late, what is the problem if it starts four months later? The project is already there.”
Other work of the project, except road digging, will continue, he said.
The minister said there is a four-kilometre elevated part in the project near Tongi Bazar.
“If I want to do this work, then the entire road will be clogged ahead of the election. Not only the Awami League men, but also leaders and activists of all other political parties will go to different parts [using the road]. Journalists will go for covering events,” Obaidul, also the general secretary of ruling Awami League, continued.
“If the road sees five to seven hours of traffic jam at that time, it would be a disaster. So, the work, which can cause public suffering, will remain suspended till election in December,” he said.
He said they will deploy more manpower in January so that the project can be completed within a reasonable time. He also directed authorities concerned to take initiative for smooth operation of the road.
Quader said Rajuk has allocated 7 acres of land to DTCA to build a bus depot in Purbachal New Town area, and delimitation work for the land will start soon.
The minister said there is a good sign that most motorcyclists and pillions are using helmet now. But those who defy laws in this regard are young political activists. He directed police to take action irrespective of their political identities so that all, including children, use helmets.
Talking about poor condition of public buses in the city, he said, “In last seven years, I have talked about poor condition of buses 700 times but nothing happened.”
He requested bus owners to at least paint the buses, “to save our faces to the foreigners.”
Lawmakers and local representatives from Dhaka, Munshiganj, Savar, Manikganj, Narsingdi, several secretaries, top officials from BRTA, BRTC, Rajuk, DNCC and DSCC took part in the meeting held at DTCA's office.
The DTCA was established on September 2, 2012, to prepare strategic transport plan, provide regular supervision, and coordinate planning for transportation infrastructure development within Dhaka and nearby districts.