DHAKA, March 12, 2020 (BSS) – Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today inaugurated the country’s first-ever expressway on Jatrabari-Mawa- Patchchar-Bhanga route to traffic, opening up a new era in the communication sector on the eve of the Mujib Year.
“This is the country’s first-ever access controlled expressway,” she said opening the newly-constructed the world class expressway under the Dhaka-Khulna Highway Project through a video-conference from her official Ganabhaban residence here this morning.
She said vehicles could go straight to destinations without any interruption as there would be no traffic signal while side lines were constructed along the expressway for low speed vehicles for the movement of people in the neighbourhood.
Sheikh Hasina recalled that in 1981 it required one 24 hours to reach Gopalganj from Dhaka by steamer but the expressway will curtail the travel time significantly smoothening journey as well.
Officials familiar with the project said with the construction of the expressway Dhaka-Gopalganj travel time would take some three hours while after the completion of the Padma Bridge it was expected to be reduced to a little over two hours.
The premier said the expressway would boost the country’s socio-economic development and increase the living standard of the people of the southern region.
She said her government was tirelessly working for the development of communication system since her party assumed office in 1996 as this basic infrastructure is a must for socio-economic development of any country.
Since Awami League’s return to the power in 2009, Sheikh Hasina said, her government kept a constant focus on the overall development of the roads, railways, waterways and airways.
She said her government was currently constructing the Padma Bridge on one of world’s mightiest rivers with own finance after successfully facing the false corruption allegations involving the project by the World Bank.
The Canadian court in its verdict also said that no corruption was committed in the Padma Bridge project.
“The decision of constructing the Padma Bridge with our own finance has increased our image in the international arena,” she said.
The premier extended her gratitude to army and the people concerned for constructing the expressway and expressed her desire to go to Gopalganj using the expressway by this month.
She said her government constructed 25 bridges in southwestern Khulna, Barishal and Gopalganj and urged all to take care of the bridges while using the structures.
The 55-km long expressway having all the modern facilities was constructed aiming to reduce travel time as well as to ensure smooth and comfortable journey of the people of 22 southwestern districts.
The international standard eight-lane expressway having four-lane main expressway and four service lanes for plying low speed vehicles will connect the country’s southwestern part with the capital which will save travel time and facilitate smooth and uninterrupted vehicles movement.
According to the project details, the expressway has five flyovers, 19 underpasses, four railway overpasses, 25 bridges, four main bridges, 54 culverts, and two inter-changes which will contribute to the national economy by boosting trade and commerce in the country.
The 25 bridges were constructed in Khulna-Barishal-Gopalganj zone under the Western Bangladesh Bridge Improvement Project.
It has two parts stretching 35-kilometre long from Jatrabari intersection to Mawa and 20-kilometre long from Pancchar to Bhanga.
The expressway is expected to contribute significantly to the overall development of the entire Khulna and Barishal divisions and a part of Dhaka division as it will strengthen connectivity between the Dhaka city and the country’s southwestern part.
People from 22 districts of the country’s southwestern region including six districts in Barishal division, 10 districts in Khulna division and six districts in Dhaka division will directly be benefited from this expressway.
The two parts of the modern expressway will be connected through the 6.15- kilometer long Padma Bridge, which is now under construction.
The four-kilometer of the main structure of the country’s longest Padma Bridge has already been visible after the installation of its 26th span on Tuesday.
The government has a plan to open the long-awaited bridge to traffic by June 2021.
When the construction works of Padma Bridge will be completed, it will take hardly one hour to get to and from Bhanga to Dhaka.
The expressway has been constructed on Dhaka-Khulna highway with an estimated cost of Tk 11003.90 crore taking the growing traffic volume into consideration for the next 20 years on this highway.
The Roads and Highways Department and Bangladesh Army jointly started the implementation of the expressway project in four districts -Dhaka, Munshiganj, Madaripur and Faridpur- back in 2016.
The scheme was completed three months before the stipulated time frame of June 2020.
Two service lanes have been kept on both sides of the expressway for local and slow-moving vehicles so that speedy vehicles can ply the road uninterruptedly and thus cut down the travel time for long-distance travelers.
There is a 2.3-km Kadamtali-Babu Bazaar Link Road Flyover among five flyovers under the expressway project. Other four flyovers are in Abdullahpur, Srinagar, Puliabazar and Maligram.
The expressway has four railway over-bridges in Zurain, Kuchiamora, Shrinagar and Atadi, and four large bridges that included 363-metre Dhaleswari-1, 591-metre Dhaleswari-2, 466-metre Arial Khan and 136-metre Kumar bridge.
The premier also opened the eight kilometres long six-lane approach road under the third Karnaphuli bridge (Shah Amanat Bridge) project.
The road was constructed under the supervision of the Roads and Highways Division at a cost of around Taka 397 crore.
Under the bridge project, four six-lane bridges, eight culverts (one six-lane and seven four-lane), two overpasses, eight kilometre-long flexible pavements and 11 kilometres footpath and drainage system have been constructed.
About the eight kilometres long six-lane approach road under the third Karnaphuli Bridge (Shah Amanat Bridge) Project, she said that it would make easier the communication between Chattogram and Dhaka.
A documentary on the benefits of constructing the overpasses was also screened.
At the function, the prime minister exchanged views with beneficiaries and stakeholders of the project through the videoconference.
Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader and Chief of Army Staff General Aziz Ahmed spoke on the occasion.
Railways Minister Md. Nurul Islam Sujan, PM’s Political Adviser HT Imam, State Minister for Women and Children Affair Fazilatun Nessa Indira were present.
PM’s Principal Secretary Dr Ahmad Kaikaus moderated the function while Secretary of Road Transport and Highways Division Md. Nazrul Islam gave a brief presentation of the expressway.
Among others, Principal Coordinator on the SDGs Affairs at the Prime Minister’s Office Zuena Aziz, PM’s Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim and PMO Secretary Md Tofazzal Hossain Miah were present on the occasion.