Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today inaugurates the much-awaited second Meghna and Gumti bridges on the Dhaka-Chattogram highway.
She will open the bridges through video conferencing from the Gono Bhaban, Prime Minister’s Office sources said.
The PM will also open Konabari and Chandra flyovers, Kaliakair, Deohata, Mirzapur and Gharinda underpasses and Kadda-1 and Bimail bridges on the Joydebpur-Chandra-Tangail-Elenga highway under the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Road Connectivity Project.
Apart from this, she will launch the new intercity train -- Panchagarh Express --- on the Dhaka-Panchagarh route.
Talking to the BSS, Abu Saleh Md Nuruzzaman, project director of the Kanchpur, Meghna and Gumti 2nd bridges construction and existing bridges rehab project, said with the newly built Kanchpur bridge already in operation, the two new additions are expected to bring relief to travellers on the Dhaka-Chattogram highway, especially during this Eid holidays.
On March 16, the PM inaugurated the Second Kanchpur Bridge on the Shitalakkhya river.
Nuruzzaman said Japanese contractors -- Obayashi Corporation, Shimizu Corporation, JFE Engineering Corporation, and IHI Infrastructure Systems Company Limited -- started constructing the Second Kanchpur Bridge along with the 2nd Meghna and 2nd Meghna-Gumti bridges on the Dhaka-Chattogram highway in January 2016.
The cost of the three bridges was estimated at Tk 8,487 crore, of which Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) provided Tk 6,430 crore.
The cost of the project may be over Tk 1,000 crore less than what had been estimated, he added.
As per the contract, the project director said the Japanese firms began work in January 2016 and it was scheduled to complete within June 2019. “But the progress of the work was halted for around four months after the Holey Artisan café attack in July 2016.”
Several Japanese citizens were killed in the terror attack in the capital’s Gulshan area.
He added that so the government extended the deadline for six months by fixing December 2019. “But construction of the bridges has been completed around seven months before [the schedule].”
Nuruzzaman also mentioned that the work of the around 400-metre new Kanchpur bridge, at a cost of Tk 950 crore, was finished in December 2017.
“The new Kanchpur bridge is two metres wider than the old one. The authorities have already started restoration work of the old bridge.”
He said construction of the new 930-metre Meghna and 1,410-metre Gumti bridges was completed at a cost of Tk 1,750 crore and Tk 1,950 crore respectively.
Nuruzzaman added that the flyover on the east end of Kanchpur bridge would be opened to the public on May 31 to ease Eid journey.
Dual carriageway between the port city and the capital shrinks to a single one at the Meghna and Gumti bridges. The old Kanchpur bridge is technically a dual carriageway, but its width is not adequate.
In this situation, traffic often crawls to a halt at the approaches to the bridges. The situation worsens ahead of Eid and during weekends as more vehicles ply the roads.
Often, travellers and truckers can find themselves stuck on the 192-km highway --the busiest in the country -- for 10 to 12 hours, instead of the expected five hours.