Industry Desk: The falling taka-US dollar exchange rate is pushing up the cost of the China-funded Dhaka-Ashulia elevated expressway project even before the start of its physical work.
Planning Commission has processed a project revision proposal seeking approval for nearly Tk 6.52 billion cost due to a dollar price hike alongside two years time extension.
The proposal is set to be tabled at the next meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) for final approval as the planning commission has already given the preliminary nod to it, official sources said.
“The project will be placed at the ECNEC meeting for revision approval. The project cost is going up mainly because of the increase in dollar price,” said Mamun-Al-Rashid, the Commission Member for Physical Infrastructure Division.
The taka-dollar exchange rate was estimated at Tk 80.70 when the project was approved in 2017, but the rate has now soared to as high as Tk 89.
The original project cost was Tk 169.01 billion which has been proposed to be raised to Tk 175.53 billion on the back of the weakening of the taka against the greenback.
The Chinese government is expected to provide Tk 96.92 billion loans to the project which has to be repaid in US dollar along with interests.
While explaining other reasons behind the project revision, Mamun-Al-Rashid informed that there was a wrong estimate about the Chinese loan.
However, China is providing the loan it had committed for and the rest will be provided from the state coffer, he said, adding that the corona crisis also slowed down the scheme.
“We had a prediction that the Chinese government will provide additional loan to the scheme, which is not going to happen. As a result, the local share of the project cost is soaring,” an official dealing with the project said requesting anonymity.
The important designed to ease nagging traffic congestion in and around the city was supposed to be completed from September 2017 to June 2022 period. But the deadline is being extended by another two years until June 2024 as land acquisition is yet to be over, the commission sources said.
The project work faced a setback during the peak of the Covid crisis as Chinese project officials could not join the work. The loan deal signing consumed much time, delaying the project, according to project officials.
They are hopeful that the project will be fully complete by the extended deadline of June 2024.
The government launched the Dhaka-Ashulia elevated expressway scheme in 2017, but it started late because of a delay in a loan deal signing with China Exim Bank.
Preliminarily, Bangladesh Bridge Authority, the implementing agency, estimated Tk 109.50 billion as Chinese project loan and Tk 59.51 billion was supposed to come from the GoB fund.
But after the project revision, the Chinese loan portion will come down by Tk 12.58 billion to Tk 96.92 billion, while GoB’s contribution will jump by Tk 19.10 billion to Tk 78.60 billion.
The 24km expressway is being constructed from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport to Chandra intersection in Ashulia via Abdullahpur- AshuliaBaipile-Nabinagar-EPZ.
Once implemented, it is expected to ease Dhaka’s connectivity with 30 districts by lowering traffic gridlock, especially in the northern districts.
At the same time, it will contribute a lot to lowering nagging traffic tailback in the Abdullahpur-AshuliaBaipile-Chandra area, a major industrial hub on the outskirts of Dhaka city.
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