Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has asked the authorities concerned not to take up any new road projects for now and rather maintain and upgrade the existing roads across the country instead.
According to official data, Bangladesh has 66 national highways, 121 regional highways and 633 district roads.
"The premier has attached more importance to the maintenance of old roads than the construction of new ones as the country has witnessed tremendous development in the road infrastructure sector already," Planning Minister MA Mannan told reporters after a meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) on Tuesday.
The prime minister issued the directive while chairing the meeting that approved 11 projects involving Tk5,825.74 crore, including the projects for 14 Sheikh Kamal IT Training Incubation Centres worth Tk1,114.63 crore.
The prime minister, who attended the meeting virtually from Ganabhaban, also gave directives to focus on IT training, said the planning minister.
"Emphasis should be laid on increasing investment in information technology, which will take the economy further into the future," he said.
The Bangladesh Hi-Tech Park Authority under the Information and Communication Technology Division will establish the 14 IT training centres in seven divisions – Dhaka, Chattogram, Khulna, Barishal, Sylhet, Rangpur and Mymensingh – by December 2026, Mannan stated.
He said the objectives of the IT training and incubation centres are the creation of infrastructural facilities for conducting business activities of IT or hi-tech industries, academic bridges with the IT industry and a platform for young entrepreneurs of the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector.
Mannan said the incubation centres will develop students of minimum secondary school certificate (SSC) or an equivalent level as skilled manpower in IT or IT-enabled services.
The incubation centres will also help them become entrepreneurs by providing them with start-up support in the field of information and communication technology, the planning minister said.
Of the approved 11 projects, eight are new while the three others are revised ones.
The approved projects include three projects under the Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, two projects under the Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives Ministry, two projects under the Road, Transport and Highways Division, one project under the Home Ministry, one under the Post, Telecommunications and ICT Ministry, one under the Shipping Ministry and another one under the Education Ministry.
The three projects under the Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry are "Renovation and Modernization of Existing 33/11kv Wooden Pole Mounted Substations in BREB (Phase-1)", a project involving Tk679.725 crore, "Implementation of Smart Distribution System in Nesco Area", a project to the tune of Tk241.09 crore, and the "Installation Absolute Point Mooring (SPM) with Double Pipeline (third Revision)" to the tune of Tk556.36 crore.
The two projects under the Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives Ministry are- "Local Government Initiative on Climate Change (LoGIC) (first revision)" project at Tk137.35 crore and "Establishment of Sheikh Jahurul Haque Rural Development Academy, Jessore" project at Tk198.95 crore.
The two projects under the Road, Transport and Highways Division are "Proper Up-gradation of Hili (Land Port)-Dugdugi-Ghoraghat National Highway (N-521) under the Dinajpur District Road Division and Construction of Reside Pavement and Drain in Market Area and Re-Construction of Narrow or Dilapidated Culvers of the three Important Roads" project at Tk463.72 crore, and "Sherpur (Kanasakhola)-Bhimganj-Narayankhola-Paranganj-Mymensingh (Rahmatpur) Road Development" project at Tk1,842.27 crore.
The other projects approved at the meeting are "Development and Rehabilitation of Gorautra, Bolai-Srigangan Rivers under the Mithamain Upazila part and Dhanu River and Namakuran River under Itna Upazila and Part of Dhaleswari River in Austagram Upazila" project at a cost of Tk342.26 crore, "Construction of Ansar and Village Defense Forces Armory (first phase 40)" at Tk64.68 crore, and "Establishment of Technical School at 100 Upazilas (second Revision)" at Tk2,520.40 crore.