Revised cost, new deadline for Dhaka-Ashulia Expressway is no surprise27 May 2022
This is not the first time in Bangladesh. This has now become a practice of the government to increase costs and extend the period of completion several times for its mega infrastructure projects. This practice opens more opportunities for corruption by the people involved in the projects. The work for Dhaka-Ashulia Expressway project has not formally started yet, but a revised budget with a new deadline will be presented before the ECNEC on Tuesday because its deadline of completion will expire in just over a month.
According to a newspaper report on Thursday, the government had approved the 24km Dhaka-Ashulia Expressway project in October 2017 and the deadline for the expressway's completion was June, 2022. Now a revision proposal has been made again that sets June 2026 as its new deadline with an additional cost of Tk 651.72 crore, raising the project cost to Tk 17,553.04 crore. Even after this revision, the project authorities informed that a further revision for the deadline might still be necessary.
The case with all mega projects is the same. The cost of the 6.15km Padma Bridge project was originally estimated to be Tk 10,161 crore in 2007, but it has now increased to Tk 39,246 crore. The 8.25km Moghbazar-Mouchak flyover project was taken up in January 2011 and was supposed to be completed by December 2015. Its construction ended on 26 October 2017 with the project cost finally arriving at Tk 11,350 crore from its original Tk 773cr. However, for the delay in starting work on the Dhaka-Ashulia expressway, the project authorities said that China had taken a long time to approve the $1.1 billion loan.
It is no new knowledge that in Bangladesh, all mega projects cost more and take longer time for completion than any other South Asian countries despite availability of cheap labour and construction materials here. It is also widely believed that for corruption and mismanagement in execution of the projects, unnecessary hike in cost and extension of project deadline is made.
Once built, Dhaka-Ashulia Expressway will allow people of northern districts to enter and exit the capital quickly and easily. Considering the huge traffic jams this portion of the highway everyday faces, the project is indeed of immense value. But due to increase in cost and extension of deadline that multiplies the sufferings of people, the mega projects in Bangladesh fail to generate hope and enthusiasm among the people.