The construction of the Dhaka-Ashulia Elevated Expressway, which was originally scheduled to be completed this month, has not progressed in the last five years due to the complexity of the loan agreement with China.
In this situation, the government has extended the duration of the project by another four years.
Md Mamun-Al-Rashid, a member of the Planning Commission's Physical Infrastructure Division, said the project was approved in 2017 but the loan agreement with China was signed in October 2021.
In addition, China was initially supposed to bear the entire cost of the project. But due to the change in the country's debt policy, it is now providing 85% of the total expenditure.
The Physical Infrastructure Division member was spelling out the details of the extension of the project at a press conference after the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) on Wednesday.
The Ecnec meeting approved the amendment proposal of the project. With the extension, the project cost has increased by Tk652 crore to Tk17,553 crore.
Planning Minister MA Mannan, State Minister for Planning Shamsul Alam and members of the Planning Commission were also present at the press conference.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina chaired the meeting at the NEC Conference Room at Sher-e-Bangla Nagar in the capital.
This was her first physical presence in an Ecnec meeting since the coronavirus struck the country in March 2020. For more than the last two years, the premier used to attend the meeting online from her official residence Ganabhaban.
Md Mamun-Al-Rashid said although the design for the project has not been prepared yet, Tk1,443 crore has already been spent on land acquisition and consultancy.
After the project was approved five years ago, China Machinery Corporation (CMC) was hired as an EPC (Engineering, Procurement, and Construction) contractor as per conditions set by Beijing.
According to the agreement, the Chinese contractor will prepare the design and carry out the construction.
There will be a 24km elevated expressway from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka to the Nabinagar intersection via Abdullahpur-Ashulia-Bypass and Chandra Junction via EPZ.
The project will have an 11km ramp. There will be a 14.28km four-lane connecting road on both sides of the flyover.
The proposed Dhaka-Ashulia Elevated Expressway project in the Asian Highway Alignment will be linked to the Dhaka Elevated Expressway.
The aim of the Ashulia Expressway is to reduce traffic congestion on the Abdullahpur-Ashulia-Bypail-Chandra road connecting 30 districts with Dhaka.
The Ecnec meeting also approved the South Asia Sub-Regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Integrated Trade Facilitation Sector Development Project Bangladesh Land Port Authority (BLPA) part at a cost of Tk217 crore.
Under this project, the infrastructure of Tamabil and Akhaura land ports will be developed.
At the meeting, the prime minister directed the authorities concerned to modernise all the land ports in the country, said the planning minister.
The minister further said that at present there are 24 land ports in the country. All the ports will be updated in phases.
In addition, another project, titled South Asia Sub-Regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Integrated Trade Facilitation Sector Development Project (the National Board of Revenue part), was approved at a cost of Tk313 crore.
A total of nine projects, including these projects, were approved at the ECNEC meeting at a cost of Tk2,665 crore.