The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has expressed its interest in financing the 88-kilometre Dhaka Inner Ring Road project, aimed at ensuring smooth travel from one end of the city to the other.
"The multilateral development bank has given its consent after we sent it a proposal seeking funds for the project," Kawsar Jahan, a deputy secretary at the Economic Relations Divisions (ERD), told The Business Standard.
"But the government has made a fresh plan to seek finance for a bunch of projects in Dhaka to eliminate traffic congestions in the country's busiest city. Currently, the Prime Minister's Office is handling the matter and we are yet to receive any update."
The Roads and Highways Department (RHD) is implementing the project at a cost of over Tk12,478 crore.
"In 2018, the department completed a feasibility study and then sent a preliminary development project proposal (PDPP) to the ERD on funding," said Md Sabuj Uddin Khan, additional chief engineer at the RHD.
"After getting approval from the Planning Commission, the ERD sent a proposal to the AIIB."
Sabuj Uddin said it is estimated that the acquisition of 61.87 hectares of land will cost Tk5,356 crore while the remaining Tk7,050 crore will be spent on construction work.
In line with the Revised Strategic Transport Plan (RSTP) of 2016, the government has taken up the project to make travelling from one end of Dhaka to the other without having to enter the city and in a faster way by avoiding tailbacks.
The project will be implemented in two parts. The first part – eastern bypass – will be 25km from Demra to Abdullahpur via Beraid, Purbachal and Teromukh.
And the 63km second part will cover Abdullahpur Rail Gate-Dhur-Birulia-Gabtoli-Swarighat-Babubazar-Kadamtali-Teghariya-Postagola-Chashara-Shimrail-Demra.
Under the project, two eight-lane bridges and nine overpasses, flyovers and U-loops will be built. Additionally, 29 underpasses, 47km pavements, six switch-gates and 86km drain-cum-footpath will be built.
In line with the RSTP, the government has taken up another project to build the Dhaka Outer Ring Road – a bypass road outside the periphery of the capital with a length of 132km for long-haul vehicles.
Through the bypass, vehicles from different districts will be able to go to another district without entering city traffic, said Md Rokibul Hasan, a transport planner at the Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA) and in-charge of the project.
This project too will be implemented in two parts.
The 48km southern part will be from Hemayetpur (on the Dhaka-Aricha Highway) to Madanpur (on the Dhaka-Chattogram Highway) via Kalakandi (on the Dhaka-Mawa Highway) and 3rd Shitalakshya Bridge.
In April 2020, the authorities appointed a consultant to conduct the feasibility study and prepare a preliminary design of this part, which is nearing completion.
On the other hand, the DTCA is hiring consultants to conduct a field-level feasibility study on the remaining 64km.
In September 2019, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs gave its assent for the implementation of the project on a public-private partnership (PPP) basis.
Currently, the PPP Authority is searching for an organisation that can provide funds for the project.
"We are considering Japan's Marubeni Corporation in the matter of a financing of the project. We have already had primary discussions, but could not proceed further as a detailed feasibility study remains to be done," Dr Najmus Sayadat, director (Investment Promotion) of the PPP Authority, told TBS.
"However, to conduct a study on economic viability, we will appoint a transaction advisory consultant. The appointment process may begin in two to three months and we hope the study will end in mid-2023."
About a field-level study, DTCA's Rokibul Hasan said, "We are going to appoint another consultant to conduct a detailed feasibility study and prepare a design. The appointment process will start in January and, hopefully, a consultant may be appointed by mid-February."
The consultant firm will then complete the study in 12 months. So the final feasibility study also may end in 2023, he added.
The existing Dhaka-Mawa Highway and the Dhaka-Narsingdi Highway will cover the rest 20km length of the 132km outer ring road.