Farhad Chowdhury: Four major projects in the communication infrastructure sector are currently running simultaneously on the Kamalapur route from Dhaka’s Ashulia to the airport. Among these, the ‘Dhaka-Ashulia Elevated Expressway’ is being constructed on the Ashulia-Abdullahpur-Airport route. Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is being built between Gazipur-Abdullahpur-Airport. Dhaka Elevated Expressway is under construction on Airport-Tezgaon-Kamalapur route. And the third and fourth railways are being constructed parallel to the existing railways between Tongi and Kamalapur. As four projects are going on simultaneously between Ashulia-Airport-Kamalapur, the construction of all of them has slowed down. Infrastructure experts blame lack of coordination among implementing agencies for this. Besides, they feel that the capacity of the existing road is being reduced by making separate poles for each project at the same place.
The construction period of Dhaka Elevated Expressway was estimated from 2010 to 2013, starting from Dhaka’s Shahjalal Airport to Qutubkhali on Jatrabari-adjacent Chittagong highway. Due to the delay, the project has been extended several times till June 2024. However, the stakeholders have expressed doubts about completing the work even in this extended time. On the other hand, the third and fourth railway construction project parallel to the existing railway between Dhaka and Tongi was supposed to start in 2012 and be completed in 2015. Due to the delay, the project has also been extended till June 2027.
Similarly, the BRT project, which was started with the aim of implementation from December 2012 to December 2016, is yet to be completed. And Dhaka-Ashulia Elevated Expressway was supposed to be implemented from July 2017 to June 2022. So far, the progress of the project is only 10 percent.
Bangladesh Railway’s Dhaka-Tongi railway extension project has become the most complicated due to the implementation of four projects at the same time in the same corridor. The work of this project has been delayed several times for the Dhaka Elevated Expressway. According to the information of Bangladesh Railway, a total area of 32.5 kilometers along the railway from Airport Railway Station to Kamalapur Railway Station is being used for the construction of the elevated expressway. Expressway construction authorities are using these areas as connecting roads for the movement of goods, construction materials and construction vehicles. As a result, railways could not start the railway extension from Banani to Tongi until now.
Director General of Bangladesh Railway Kamrul Ahsan told, “Elevated Expressway is currently being worked on in a large part of the part where the two new railways will be built. As a result, the railway expansion work has been put on hold for the time being. The construction of the third and fourth railways will start when the expressway authority completes their work and clears the place. He also mentioned that the duration of this railway expansion project has been extended till June 2027.
Due to the construction work of Dhaka Elevated Expressway, the construction work of Dhaka-Ashulia Elevated Expressway under construction between airport and Abdullahpur-Ashulia is also being disrupted. Gu Feng, senior manager of China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation (CMC), the contractor of the project, said that the Dhaka-Ashulia Elevated Expressway will be connected to the Dhaka Elevated Expressway in the airport area. The construction yard of the Dhaka Elevated Expressway in the airport area is required for the Dhaka-Ashulia project. But they still haven’t got the construction yard and adjoining land. Due to this, the work of the project is being disrupted in the airport area.
Complications have also arisen in the construction of a depot for the BRT project at the airport roundabout. The site selected by the BRT authority for the depot is claimed by the Civil Aviation Authority (BAB) and Bangladesh Railways.
Managing Director of Dhaka Bus Rapid Transit Company Limited Sofiqul Islam said that a case is ongoing to recover the site of the proposed BRT bus terminal and correct the records. In the meantime, officials of BRT and CAAB have visited the place. They will give a report. Action will be taken accordingly. On the other hand, the consultancy firm has been given the responsibility to design the terminal. After the finalization of the design, the construction of the terminal will be started on the basis of negotiations.
Pointing out that there is no possibility of launching the Airport-Gazipur BRT before June next year, he told, “So far the progress of the project is about 85 percent. A flyover is being constructed at Gazipur intersection, which may require some more time. Another flyover is being constructed at Bhogra intersection. This flyover is very complicated. The work of the lower part of the flyover is almost complete. It will take some time for the upper part.
Communication infrastructure expert and professor of Bangladesh University of Engineering (BUET)Samshul Haq sees the lack of coordination in the implementation of these four major projects. In this context, he told, ‘Since four big projects are being implemented in the same area and almost at the same time, the most important thing here was to coordinate the work of all. But we can see that each project is being done separately and there is no coordination of one with the other. As a result, all the projects are getting delayed, it is not unusual at all.
Dr. Samshul Haque said, “Here is another important thing. Ashulia Expressway and BRT are on the same route from Airport to Abdullahpur. There are two project flyovers, for which poles are built over existing roads. Separate poles for BRT on the same road, and separate poles for expressways. At one time it was the most reliable road in Dhaka. But the capacity is being wasted by building one pole after another on this road. We see multiple structures on one pole in the developed world. We could have done the same here. Since all the projects have gone to the Planning Commission, they could have taken the initiative to do multiple projects on a single pole. And the idea of multiple projections on a pole is not new. It has been working like this for almost 50 years around the world. But instead of doing that, we are reducing the capacity of the road with separate poles.
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