Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina opened the country’s first expressway — Jatrabari-Mawa-Patchchar-Bhanga — to traffic.
She opened the newly-constructed 55-km expressway under the Dhaka-Khulna Highway Project through videoconferencing from the Gono Bhaban.
Speaking at the programme, the PM said this was the country’s first-ever access controlled expressway.
Vehicles using the expressway could reach their destinations without any interruption as there would be no traffic signal. Separate lanes were constructed along the expressway for the low-speed vehicles for the movement of the people in nearby areas, she added.
Hasina recalled that it took a passenger 24 hours to reach Gopalganj from Dhaka by a steamer in 1981. But the expressway would cut the travel time significantly.
Officials familiar with the project said with the construction of the expressway, the Dhaka-Gopalganj travel time would reduce to around three hours. After the opening of the Padma Bridge, it is expected to be reduced to a little over two hours.
The PM said the expressway would boost the country’s socio-economic development and increase the living standard of the people in the southern region.
She said her government was currently constructing the Padma Bridge with its own fund. “The decision of building the Padma Bridge with our own finance has boosted our image in the international arena.”
Hasina expressed gratitude to the army and the people concerned for constructing the expressway. She expressed willingness to go to Gopalganj using the expressway this month.
The expressway will connect the country’s southwestern part with the capital. People from 22 districts in Dhaka, Barishal and Khulna divisions will directly be benefited from it.
According to project details, the expressway has five flyovers, 19 underpasses, four railway overpasses, 25 bridges, four main bridges, 54 culverts, and two inter-changes.
It has two parts — from Jatrabari intersection in the capital to Mawa in Munshiganj (35-km) and from Pancchar to Bhanga (20-km). The two parts of the expressway will be linked by the Padma Bridge. The government has a plan to open the bridge to traffic by June 2021.
The expressway has been built at an estimated cost of Tk 11,003 crore. The Roads and Highways Department and Bangladesh Army jointly had started the implementation of the expressway project in four districts — Dhaka, Munshiganj, Madaripur and Faridpur — back in 2016.
The project work was completed three months ahead of the stipulated time frame of June 2020.
Hasina also opened the eight-km-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 Tk 397 crore.
At the function, the PM exchanged views with the beneficiaries and stakeholders of the project through videoconferencing.
Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader and Chief of Army Staff Gen Aziz Ahmed also spoke on the occasion.
Railways Minister Nurul Islam Sujan, PM’s Political Adviser HT Imam, and State Minister for Women and Children Affairs Fazilatun Nessa Indira were present.