Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday inaugurated the much-awaited 11.5km Dhaka Elevated Expressway's Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport-Farmgate section for traffic that is expected to significantly reduce the city's traffic congestion.
She unveiled a plaque of the expressway at the Kawla end of the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport. A munajat was later offered seeking welfare of the country and its people.
Earlier, the prime minister paid the toll at the Kawla end where Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader received Sheikh Hasina and her younger sister Sheikh Rehana on their arrival. After the inauguration, the colourful balloons were released.
Executive Director of the Bangladesh Bridges Authority and Secretary of the Bridges Division Md Monjur Hossain gave a brief description of the project.
After opening the expressway, the prime minister departed for the old trade fair ground at Sher-e-Bangla Nagar to attend a civic rally, marking the grand opening of the Dhaka Elevated Expressway in the afternoon.
The Airport-Farmgate section will be opened to traffic on Sunday, officials added.
The length of this section is about 11.5km. There are 15 ramps for boarding. Out of these, two ramps at Banani and Mohakhali will remain closed for the time being. The maximum speed limit for traffic on the expressway will be 60km per hour.
Three-wheelers, bicycles and pedestrians will not be allowed to move on the expressway, while motorbikes cannot run on it right now.
Earlier, the road transport and bridges ministry fixed the toll rates for the expressway's Airport-Farmgate section ranging from Tk 80 to Tk 400.
Under category 1, the toll rate for car, taxi, jeep, sports utility vehicle, microbus (under 16 seats) and light truck (under 3 tonnes) for crossing the airport-Farmgate section from any point is Tk 80.
The toll rate for medium trucks (up to six wheels) for crossing the route from any point is Tk 320 under category 2.
Under category 3, the toll rate for trucks (over six wheels) for crossing the route from any point is Tk 400. The toll rate for any bus (16 seated or above) for crossing the route from any point is Tk 160 under category 4.
The total length of the elevated expressway is 46.73km covering Kawla, Kuril, Banani, Mohakhali, Tejgaon, Moghbazar, Kamalapur, Sayedabad, Jatrabari to Kutubkhali on the Dhaka-Chattogram Highway.
Vehicles need 10 minutes to travel the 11km distance from Airport to Farmgate.
With an 11.5km mainline and 11km ramp, the length of the part will be 22.5km. Initially, 13 out of 15 ramps in this part will be opened. The ramps at Banani and Mohakhali will be opened once their construction is complete.
The total expenditure of the project is estimated at Tk 8,940 crore, while the viability gap funding is Tk 2,413 crore, which will be provided by the Bangladesh government.
The First Dhaka Elevated Expressway (FDEE) Company Ltd is the investor company. Italian Thai Development Public Company Ltd has 51 per cent shares, China Shandong International Economic and Technical Co-operation Group (CSI) holds 34 per cent, while Sinohydro Corporation Ltd has 15 per cent shares.
As per the project, the first contract was signed on January 19, 2011 and the reviewed agreement was signed on December 15, 2013 and the project completion period was from July 2011 to June 2024.
Construction of the second phase – from Banani railway station to Moghbazar level crossing – is progressing fast.
In the last 15 years, several infrastructure projects have been initiated in Bangladesh. Considering the size, budget, and economic impact, many of these projects have been termed mega projects.
The government has also identified a few of them as fast-track projects. Among these, Padma Multipurpose Bridge, Bangladesh's first metro rail project MRT Line-6 and Chandra-Elenga four-lane highway were completed.
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel, the first and longest underwater road tunnel in South Asia, is expected to be ready for traffic soon.
The other projects – Padma Bridge rail link, Chattogram-Cox's Bazar rail link, Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, Matarbari 1,200MW coal-fired power plant, Payra deep sea port, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Railway Bridge on the Jamuna River are extremely crucial to the country's economic growth and hence the key focus of the government now is their timely completion.
After the Awami League government came to power in 2009, it took up several monumental development projects with the view to transforming the country's communication, transport and power infrastructure.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government has introduced a modern transport system in the country by opening Dhaka metro rail and Padma Multipurpose Bridge and other mega projects.