Fear of more delays looms
The long-delayed dedicated rapid bus service from Dhaka airport to Gazipur is likely to face another phase of delay, as authorities expressed concerns over implementing the project within the stipulated time-frame.
Due to the construction work, commuters of Dhaka-Gazipur highway are also in fear of heavy traffic congestion due to Eid.
Around 73 percent of project works have been completed so far.
The "Greater Dhaka Sustainable Urban Transport Project" was taken up in November 2012 and was scheduled to be completed by December 2016, at a cost of Tk 2,037.9 crore.
Later, the project -- jointly funded by the government, Asian Development Bank, French Development Agency and Global Environment Facility -- went through four revisions. The new cost was estimated at Tk 4,268.3 crore.
Though the current deadline is set for June 2022, the project authorities have already sought time till December 2023, including a one-year defect liability period (DLP) and Tk 268.13 crore more.
If approved, the project cost could total Tk 4,536.46 crore. But project authorities said they want to complete the project within December this year, without exhausting the DLP.
After the project's completion, dedicated buses would be operated on two central lanes of the highway, while there would have four lanes for mixed traffic; two more lanes for slow-moving vehicles; with footpaths on both sides.
But authorities said there are still some problems, which might cause delays to implement the project in time.
Visiting the site, it was found that new pillars are being installed for the project's flyover, running from station road to Cherag-ali road. Construction of the flyover on BRT project road and carpeting of the new road under the flyover are still ongoing. As a result, vehicles run slow on the existing road, which causes heavy traffic congestion.
Sultan Ahmed Sarker, president of Gazipur-district road transport labour union, said thousands of vehicles ply the existing road, and that number would further increase ahead of Eid. But as the new roads are yet to be completed, home-going passengers are fearing traffic jams.
Md Mohirul Islam Khan, director of the project (Bangladesh Bridge Authority), said, "We expect to complete the whole project in time, unless we face any new problems."
"But we have been facing several issues, as people and different institutions occupied two sides of the road by building markets and shops as well as dumping waste. In addition, electric cables were laid on Ahsan Ullah Master Flyover," he said, adding that it will cost a good amount of money to remove those cables.
A huge pile of garbage was dumped near House Building area. "We asked Dhaka North City Corporation [DNCC] authorities to clear the place some 14 times, but they have been delaying it," Mohirul said.
Contacted, SM Shafiqur Rahman, executive engineer (collection and transport, waste management) of DNCC, said, "We received two letters in this regard. We will remove the garbage in the next seven to 10 days."
Project director SM Elias Shah said overall progress at present is 73 percent. "We have also instructed to complete carpeting the new road under the flyover soon, so that vehicles can ply it during Eid."
Gazipur Metropolitan Police Deputy Commissioner (Traffic) Abdullah Al Mamun said according to a survey, some 60,000 vehicles ply the existing road every 24 hours. "We have instructed BRT authorities to open the new road, the part for which they have completed constructing more than one lane, by setting up a divider."
"It will be easy for us to manage traffic if they open some parts of the road by Saturday," he added.