Sunday, July 21, 2024

Expressway losing its way

Faces delay as process for land acquisition not started 3 months into signing deal
Construction of the Dhaka Elevated Expressway (DEE) faces delay for the lengthy process of land acquisition and removal of structures from the project route.
Bangladesh Bridge Authority (BBA), the implementing authority of the project, must hand over one-third of the project land to the constructor, Italian-Thai Development Public Company, within six months of the signing, according to the agreement inked on January 19.
Three months into the signing of the deal, the BBA has yet to prepare a proposal for taking over the land owned by government agencies, let alone acquiring privately owned land.
It will take at least two months to do the paperwork before the land owners can be served with notice. The acquisition of land will require another three to four months, an official concerned told The Daily Star on condition of anonymity.
Given this reality, the bridge authority will not be able to hand over the land for the first segment of the expressway within the six-month deadline, said Prof Md Shamsul Hoque, a member of the DEE expert team.
In that case, the government has to pay the company a compensation of $10,000 a day after the deadline.
The company, on the other hand, must pay the government a liquidity damage of $50,000 a day, if the work remains unfinished after the 42-month construction deadline of June 2014.
Communications Minister Syed Abul Hossain said at the signing ceremony that the government aimed to start the construction by March and get it done by mid-2014.
The 26-km expressway from Shahjalal International Airport to Kutubkhali on Dhaka-Chittagong highway will be built under public-private partnership at a cost of Tk 8,703 crore.
The first nine-km segment from airport to Tejgaon will require 96 acres of land — 18 acres of which are owned by private owners.
Of the remaining 78 acres, 10 acres belong to the Cantonment Board, four to the Roads and Highways Department and the rest is owned by the Bangladesh Railway (BR).
Separate arrangements have to be made to take over the land.
The authorities have to remove 258 structures from the expressway route, which include 16 five-storey and eight six-storey buildings, shows document.
BBA Secretary Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan told The Daily Star last month that the BBA would sign a memorandum of understanding with the railway by the third week of March for taking over its land.
But BR Director General TA Chowdhury last week said the railway authorities did not receive any proposal in this regard.
The Italian-Thai company is expected to do a test piling at the airport end this week but it has yet to find a suitable site.
Moreover, the project authority has to resolve the route’s conflicts with the Khilgaon Flyover and the proposed metro rail route before the construction can start.
The expressway route conflicts with a new slip road (loop) of the Khilgaon Flyover at Khilgaon while two link ramps of the expressway clash with the metro rail route along Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue, said Prof Hoque of DEE.
One of the two ramps, designed to be built underneath the metro rail track, will connect Manik Mia Avenue with the expressway and the other will connect Azimpur, Dhaka University, Buet and New Market from near the FDC point.
He, however, said the conflicts will be resolved by making certain changes in the alignment and compromising the height of the expressway as well as the surface road.
The expressway’s impact on the environment needs to be assessed before the construction, as the assessment report is a prerequisite for the construction company to get bank loans.
It will take at least six months to carry out the assessment, said Prof Mujibur Rahman of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet), who led the project’s initial environmental evaluation.
The proposed route of the expressway starts from the airport and runs through Kuril, Banani, Tejgaon, Moghbazar and Kamalapur Stadium along the existing rail track and through Gulbagh, by the Syedabad Water Treatment Plant, up to Kutubkhali.


Courtesy of The Daily Star

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