Dhaka-Sylhet multilane and modern highway project might be delayed with fund diversion by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) if the project is not approved by June this year, an informed official says.
The regional development bank has already indicated that they are ready to complete the loan negotiations by July and the deal signing on the fund disbursement in September next.
The ADB, however, indicated that the funds might go to other projects due to the absence of approval of the Dhaka-Sylhet highway project amid bureaucratic complexities, said the official.
In that case, officials said, the project might get delayed by another year.
The Roads & Highways Department (RHD) of the Ministry of Road Transport and Bridges said it will take 45-60 days to scrutinise the project (4+2 lanes) while the ADB says the design of the highway must be approved by June, said an informed source.
ADB Country Director for its Bangladesh Resident Mission Manmohan Parkash recently met Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen and drew his attention for the quick approval of the project by the officials concerned and the RHD Chief Engineer.
Since Bangladesh became a member of ADB in 1973, ADB has mobilised more than $25 billion in loans and grants to help bring better infrastructure, public services, and social development outcomes to the people of Bangladesh.
In 2019, ADB committed eight sovereign loans totalling about $1.3 billion. As of 31 December 2019, cumulative loan and grant disbursements to Bangladesh amount to $15.23 billion, according to ADB.
On January 29, Foreign Minister Dr said they want to see Dhaka-Sylhet multilane and modern highway operational by 2023 which will remain fit for vehicular movement at least for 50 years.
The impasse over financing of the expansion of 214-kilometre Dhaka-Sylhet Highway into four lanes ended as the Asian Development Bank agreed to fund the project.
"ADB funding is ready," said the Foreign Minister adding that all relevant MPs have shared their ideas in the meeting.
He also said, "They're (MPs) very accommodative, it's very good. All of them want quick implementation of the project."
The Foreign Minister said the entire Sylhet region and other places on the highway would be benefited on tourism and industrial fronts once the highway project is implemented which will ultimately contribute to the national economy.