The Dhaka Elevated Expressway (EEW) project is likely to see yet another deadline extension as several hurdles have recently come in the way of the construction of the much-anticipated project.
The obstacles include a conflict with the MRT Line-5, the height issue concerning a secondary transfer station (STS) of the Dhaka South City Corporation, and the railway's request to change the location of a planned toll plaza in Kamalapur.
Earlier, the deadline for completing the 19.73-kilometre expressway stretching from Kawla in Dhaka to Kutubkhali on the Dhaka-Chattogram Highway, with 27 ramps of around 27km, was extended several times. It is currently scheduled for completion by June next.
"We will try our best to complete the work within the stipulated time. But, the newly created issues may cause a delay. Accordingly, we may have to apply to the government for time expansion," said Wang Dengpan, deputy managing director of China Shandong International Economic and Technical Corporation Group – an investor in the public-private partnership (PPP) project.
The project has made overall progress of 44.85% as of now, while the progress of Phase-1 and Phase-2 is 80.66% and 31.02%, respectively, he added.
However, the authorities will open a portion (Kawla to Tejgaon) to the public this December. The project is being implemented in three phases – Kawla to Banani, Banani to Moghbazar, and Moghbazar to Kutubkhali.
In January 2011, the Bangladesh Bridge Authority (BBA) signed a deal with Italian-Thai Development Public Company to build the expressway at a cost of Tk8,703 crore. Then, it was revised in December 2013 and the cost stood at Tk8,940 crore.
The construction work was inaugurated twice – first in April 2011 for completion by mid-2014, and then in August 2015. However, the formal construction commencement date is 1 January 2020, and a portion of the expressway – stretching from Dhaka airport to Moghbazar – was supposed to be opened by December 2020, as per an announcement made in 2019 by Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader.
After missing the deadline, Quader last year projected that the whole project would be completed by June 2023.
According to officials concerned, the project failed to meet the deadline time and again mainly due to a crisis of funds of the private investor Italian-Thai, delays in handing over the project, and problems related to land acquisition.
However, the fund-related problem was resolved in 2020 after Italian-Thai handed over 49% of its share to two Chinese companies – China Shandong International Economic and Technical Corporation Group (34%), and Sinohydro Corporation Ltd (15%).
Meanwhile, Muhammad Ibrahim, secretary and chief executive officer of the Private Public Partnership Authority (PPPA), visited the project site on Sunday.
During the visit, he said the PPPA and the Bangladesh Bridge Authority are working hard to expedite the implementation of the project.
"The initial work is progressing really fast and the construction should end within its due time," he said, adding, "We will sit with the authorities concerned who have come into conflict with the project. Hope the issues will be resolved soon."