40km Elevated Expressway: Govt moves to link highways
The government plans to build a nearly 40km elevated expressway from Hemayetpur in Savar to Madanpur in Narayanganj for creating a vital link between major highways.
The East-West Elevated Expressway would allow traffic to switch highways and skip the congested streets of the capital. Vehicles on Dhaka-Aricha highway would be able to speed towards the Dhaka-Chittagong highway with options to go in the direction of Mawa and Sylhet.
In turn, vehicles from Chittagong and Sylhet would be able to bypass the city and head towards Mawa, Aricha, and northern districts.
The Dhaka-Mawa highway is directly linked with the under-construction Padma Bridge and to Narayanganj via Dhaka-Narayanganj Road.
“By making these connections between these major highways and thus the north, south and west of the country, the expressway will have some effect on diverting traffic from Dhaka, and thereby reducing congestion in the capital,” according to a project document.
The project is a component of the strategic road network planning of the Dhaka Structure Plan (2016-2035) and the Asian Highway Network.
In January, Malaysia expressed its willingness through it embassy in Dhaka to invest in the project under a government-to-government arrangement, confirmed officials at the Bridges Division and the Economic Relations Division (ERD).
Under this system, there is no competition and the foreign government selects one or multiple companies for the work.
Two Chinese companies were also keen on investing and implementing the toll expressway. But the government preferred the Malaysian proposal as it wants investment from new countries, beyond the usual countries that invest in development projects in Bangladesh.
An official of the bridges division said a Malaysian company is likely to implement the project with funds from the Malaysia government.
Last month, the ERD sent details to the Malaysian High Commission in Dhaka through a letter. Earlier this month, it requested Malaysia to send a detailed proposal with information on financing and other matters.
The next step will be taken after getting a technical proposal from Malaysia, sources said.
According to the ERD letter, the project has two components -- Dhaka East-West Elevated expressway, which would cost an estimated $1,673.56 million, and a bridge on Bhulta-Araihazar-Bancharampur-Nabinagar Road over the Meghna, which would cost around $182.43 million.
The proposed route would be Hemayetpur-Nimtoli-Keraniganj-Ekuria-Janzira-Fatullah-Hajiganj Bandar-Modonpur on Dhaka-Chittagong highway. It would be an important part of Asian Highway-1, which goes through Benapole-Jessore-Kanchpur-Dhaka-Sylhet-Tamabil.
There might be a need for two separate contracts -- one for the western section from Hemayetpur to Dhaka-Mawa highway and another for the eastern section from Dhaka-Mawa highway to Madanpur of Narayanganj.
The eastern section is expected to take five years while the western section four years to complete.
In January, the Planning Commission approved in principle the Preliminary Development Project Proposal and said Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority's opinion was mandatory for formulating a Development Project Proposal.
The authority's Executive Director Syed Ahmed said they have asked the Bridges Division to conduct a feasibility study and report back.
Malaysia is the second country after Japan that showed interest in investing under government-to-government arrangements.
In December last year, Bangladesh's Public Private Partnership Authority (PPPA) sought multi-billion-dollar support from Japan for implementing 18 infrastructure projects.
More than a dozen Japanese companies have already shown interest in investing in eight such projects.