Rabiul Alam: Bangladesh is lagging behind in constructing expressway compared to its neighboring countries. The 55 kilometers long expressway built on Dhaka-Mawa-Bhanga route is the first and only expressway of the country inaugurated in last year which was constructed to reduce travel time and ensure a smooth and comfortable journey of the people of 22 south-western districts. But, no more progress is here in this context.
Though, neighboring countries are going forward in constructing expressways. Among, Sri Lanka has three expressways lengthening 277 km in spite of being less than half in size of Bangladesh. Besides, SAARC member country Pakistan has eight expressways stretching around 547 km.
Neighboring country India is also stepping up in expressway construction. There are 25 expressways in India stretching 1,459 km. It is also going to construct 25 more expressways.
On the other hand, Malaysia, one of the emerging economic countries, has 37 expressways lengthening 2,001 km. However, there are 36 expressways in China with a stretch around 49,600 km.
In addition, the plan of constructing 218 km long expressway on Dhaka- Chittagong route taken a decade ago was cancelled last year. Apart from that there is no prioritized list of constructing expressway elsewhere. As result the country is lagging behind in unobstructed road network construction than other neighboring countries. Because neighboring countries including India, Pakistan, China, Sri Lanka and Malaysia have more and are constructing new expressways swiftly than Bangladesh.
Sources said, Road Transport and Highway Division had presented progression of Dhaka- Chittagong expressway in 2016 upon possibility of constructing the expressway. Prime Minister had approved alignment of constructing the 218 km long expressway alongside existing highway on the routine. The expressway consisting of six lanes would have three service stations, seven interchanges, 64 overpasses, 44 vehicle underpasses, four medium bridges and 28 small bridges.
Experts opined that Bangladesh should urgently build more expressways to ensure smooth, safe and comfortable journey.
They said, land crisis in the country is gradually increasing. However, land acquisition will be difficult and costly in upcoming days. So Bangladesh should prepare adequate policies and start land acquisition within this time.
Meanwhile, expressway has an access to control road system. There is no way for vehicles to enter and exit randomly. Vehicles can move unobstructed for having barriers in both sides and there are some specific points to enter and exit.
Besides, expressways usually have service lanes for local and low speed vehicles. Vehicles can move 100-120 km per hour in such road. Moreover, most of expressways have toll collection system and vehicles usually pay toll to move on. Sources said, Dhaka-Mawa-Bhaga expressway was inaugurated in last year, but authorities are yet to start toll collection. Toll collection is likely to be started from July of this year. Tk 1,361 for trailer, Tk 1,089 for large track, Tk 544 for medium truck, Tk 408 for small sized truck, Tk 490 for large truck, Tk 272 for small or Costar bus, Tk 218 for microbus; pickup; GIP, Tk 136 for personal car and Tk 27 for Bike has primarily been proposed for toll on the expressway.
Seeking anonymity, a source of Roads and Highways Department said told The Daily Industry that, an initiative for preparing a draft list for expressway has already been undertaken. Meeting will be arranged in this regard within short time. However, there is no construction related policies for constructing expressway.
“Road Transport and Highways Division took an initiative to amend road sector master-plan formed in 2015. Under this circumstance, National Expressway Policy would be formed,” he added.