All highways in the country will be upgraded into four- to six-lane ones in phases, said Md Nazrul Islam, secretary to the Road Transport and Highways Division.
"The country currently has a 22,000-kilometre road network, of which 4,000 kilometres are highways. Work has already begun to develop the existing four-lane highways into six-lane ones."
Around 56 km of flyovers will also be constructed across the country in near future, he added while addressing a contract signing ceremony between the Roads and Highways Department (RHD) and a consortium of the Chinese state-owned Communications Construction Company Limited, and its sister concern China Road and Bridge Corporation on Sunday to upgrade the Hatirjheel-Demra highway via Banasree, Sheikherjayga and Amulia into a four-lane expressway.
The Chinese consortium will invest Tk2,094 crore to construct the expressway, which will have two separate service lanes and separate connections from Demra to Chittagong Road and Tarabo.
After the completion of the construction work, the investors will receive Tk4,523 crore in revenue from the government in the next 21 years – at the rate of Tk107.70 crore every six months.
As such, the Chinese consortium will earn Tk2,429 crore in profit by implementing the project.
Abdus Sabur, chief engineer of the Roads and Highways Department, and Fang Ming of the investor consortium signed the agreement on behalf of their respective organistations at a programme held at the InterContinental hotel in the capital.
The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) has approved a separate project involving a cost of Tk1,210 crore to acquire land, rehabilitate and compensate the affected people, and transfer utilities for the implementation of the project.
In all, the expenditure on 13.50-km road development stands at Tk3,304 crore. The cost per kilometre will be Tk244.74 crore.
The planned thoroughfare will work as an alternative gateway to Dhaka's centre from Chattogram and Sylhet, and help reduce traffic congestion.
Nonetheless, vehicles will be allowed to use the expressway paying tolls, people concerned said at the signing ceremony.
Officials told the event that a public-private partnership (PPP) proposal was made in 2015 to upgrade Rampura-Amulia-Demra highway to a four-lane one. The PPP project was approved in principle by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on 26 January 2016.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has said the Hatirjheel-Demra expressway, if implemented, will be used by about 32,000 vehicles per day by 2025. By 2035, this number will increase to 55,000 and by 2050 to 85,000.
The ADB further says the demand for transportation in the country is increasing at a rate of 8-10% every year, and 80% of these vehicles are Dhaka-centric.
Vehicles carrying people and goods from the country's most important Dhaka-Chattogram and Dhaka-Sylhet highways enter the capital through the same route. As a result, a huge amount of working hours is wasted in traffic jams. In this situation, it is necessary to facilitate the entrance of vehicles to the capital from the south, continues the ADB.