Road expansion project in Rajshahi that never ends
Even after eight years, Rajshahi Development Authority (RDA) could not complete a 5km road expansion and construction work of the city's first ever flyover.
Throughout the years, the design has been changed multiple times and new features added, increasing project implementation cost by Tk 119 crore.
"We want to complete the works in a way that is beneficial for people. This is why we're taking our time with it," project director Md Abdullah Al Tariq told The Daily Star recently.
Beside the cost increase, and its toll on people's coffers, people are also the victim of the delay as commuters of a traffic-logged city.
According to documents and officials, RDA took up the project in February, 2013.
They planned expanding the five-kilometre Ruet to Kharkhari road (15.85 metres wide), at a cost of Tk 87.36 crore.
The project was scheduled to end in three years, by June, 2016.
By 2016, it was already half-way there. But then the RDA authorities decided to add an 810-metre flyover over a railway track on the road, increasing the total cost to Tk 159 crore.
The project was rescheduled to end by June of 2018, officials said.
But the works remained incomplete till 2019, when the authorities redesigned the flyover into a double-lane one and planned the road into four lanes.
The authorities also increased the height of the flyover to nine metres from seven, following a requirement by the railway authorities, the officials said.
New plans were also taken up for constructing drain and footpath on both sides of the road, raising the project cost to Tk 206.63 crore.
This time, it was rescheduled to end by June of 2021.
But it still could not be completed in time, and was further extended till June, 2022. But again, perplexingly, the works have remained suspended since July this year.
Project director Md Abdullah Al Tariq said the work has been delayed due to the need to acquire additional land for the project.
"Seventy percent of the works are almost complete," at a cost of around Tk 158 crore, he said.
Fittingly, seizing the opportunity, some locals have turned the incomplete road and flyover into a cattle grazing field. During a visit to the area, this correspondent saw parts of the unfinished road filled with cow dung.
After months out in the open, the iron rods have caught rust.
This correspondent spoke to a guard at the spot. "Locals don't pay heed to us when we ask them to take the cattle elsewhere," he lamented.
Auto-rickshaw driver Shahidul Islam said, "The road caused a lot of pain for years up to 2013, when the authorities began the works. But somehow, it's managed to get worse now."
Shahidul now needs to repair his auto-rickshaw almost every week, due to the wear and tear the vehicle is subjected to by the uneven road.
Though the project director has assured there's only a few months of works left, and they'll be able to complete it in time, it remains to be seen whether that's actually the case, said locals.