People who visited Sylhet a couple of years ago might go through a sense of wonder now if they visit the city's Kadamtali area, where an eye-catching bus terminal has been erected in the place of a waste dumping station.
The design of the newly-built Sylhet Central Bus Terminal, which awaits inauguration, blends modern trends with local traditions – historic Assam-style houses and Ali Amjad's tower clock.
"The architectural beauty of the bus terminal is drawing people's attention. So far, this is the most attractive terminal in the country," Nur Azizur Rahman, chief engineer of Sylhet City Corporation, told The Business Standard.
"The construction of the terminal is almost done. Last-minute touches are being given to it. We were supposed to do that last month, but we could not do so due to the flood situation."
The official added that a date for the inauguration will be scheduled soon and that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is expected to be the chief guest of the event.
Built on eight acres of land, the three-storey bus terminal complex was developed by Dhaly Construction under a Tk63 crore project funded by the World Bank. Three faculty members from the Architecture Department of Shahjalal University of Science and Technology – Subrata Das, Robin Dey and Mohammad Jashim Uddin – designed the terminal.
"We have tried to keep the footprints of the Sylhet heritage architecture, particularly Assam-type houses and Chadnighat Clock while designing the project. Modern architectural features have also been included here," Subrata Das told TBS.
The entry and exit gates of the terminal have been built in line with those at airports. The terminal has a waiting lounge with a capacity of 1,500 seats. The entire area with its green tree-surrounding red brick walls and coloured roofs conveys an eye-soothing impression to visitors.
Local people said the terminal area used to be full of garbage, with a terrible odour earlier. In the rainy season, mud and stagnant water would make the environment worse. Besides, the parking of vehicles here and there always bothered people.
Now the authorities expect that there will be discipline in parking of buses and other vehicles once the newly-built terminal goes into operation.
"We are framing policies in collaboration with transport owners and workers to operate the terminal in a disciplined manner. Car parking and passenger boarding will not be allowed just about anywhere. Counters cannot be placed here and there," Sylhet City Corporation Mayor Atiqul Haque Chowdhury told TBS.
He expressed his happiness as Sylhet now is home to the country's most beautiful bus terminal.
Helal Uddin, senior engineer of Dhaly Construction, said tin was imported for the project from Taiwan and steel structures came from China.
The Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology tested the quality of all the construction materials, he added.
"A large waiting space, as in airports, has been kept here. There is also a parking zone and a green zone at the back of the building. The multipurpose complex accommodates a large hall room, office, washroom, rest room and other facilities for transport owners and staffers," he told TBS.