Staff Correspondent: The four-year Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project has been lingering for 10 years, causing several fatal accidents, immense suffering to people and a huge hike in project cost.
The hobbling scheme drew huge criticism from experts and policymakers for its delay and lax project management after the recent crane failure that left five passengers of a private car dead.
In all these 10 years, accidents involving the project have so far claimed six lives and left another nine people including two Chinese citizens injured.
Besides, the city dwellers had to go through unbearable suffering from nagging traffic congestion and dust created in the 20 km stretch of the project from Gazipur to the Airport all these years.
The project started in 2012 with the hope to complete it in four years, but only 70 per cent of the project has been completed even six more years have elapsed after the first deadline had expired.
Prior to the Uttara accident, four people, including two Chinese citizens were injured in a girder collapse on March 14 last year near Shahjalal International Airport. Moreover, a security guard was killed and a person was injured in another accident.
The project work has remained suspended since the Uttara accident. The project is not likely to be completed by this December, the scheme’s latest deadline, according to project officials.
“The project work has stopped after the crane accident. Not only that, project work also remained suspended during the Covid pandemic. So there is uncertainty whether the project would be completed by its deadline,” said Moniruzzaman, director of Bus Rapid Transit Company Ltd.
The project has a provision to collect 50 articulated buses from abroad but there is no headway to this end. About this, Moniruzzaman said specifications of the buses have been finalised but the sourcing country of the electric articulated is yet to be finalized. The bus procurement might be complete after the project is complete.
Meanwhile, the delay has caused a project cost hike by Tk 22.28 billion to Tk 42.68 billion from Tk 20.40 billion original project cost.
Of this cost, the government is providing Tk 14.25 billion and Tk 28.43 billion is coming as project assistance.
Some 15.07km out of the 20.20km BRT will be on the ground and the rest 4.5km will be an elevated way. Once the project is implemented, Dhaka-Gazipur travel time will be curtailed to only 40 minutes. Buses on the route will be available every 1.5 to 3 minutes.
There is also allegations of lack of coordination as the project is being implemented by three agencies—Bangladesh Road Transport and Highways Division, Bangladesh Bridges Authority and LGED.
The bus depot at Gazipur under the scheme has been completed. There will be 25 stations in the 20km stretch. In addition, 113 access drains totalling56km in length, 24km of high-capacity drains and 10 kitchen markets are being built.
A 10-lane bridge is being constructed at Tongi over the Turag River, under the project apart from six elevated stations.
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