The expressway will be the first project in the country’s transport sector to be developed under a Public-Private Partnership initiative.
Economic Relations Division (ERD) Joint Secretary Saifuddin Ahmed and Stefan Ekelund, Deputy Country Director and Officer-in-Charge of ADB’s Bangladesh Resident Mission, signed the deal on behalf of Bangladesh and ADB respectively at a ceremony at ERD at city’s Sher-e-Bangla Nagar.
“Once completed, the expressway will give a boost to the country’s trade and industrial sectors, not to mention ensuring safer and faster transport to thousands of users,” said Stefan Ekelund, Deputy Country Director and Officer-in-Charge of ADB’s Bangladesh Resident Mission.
The expressway will link the two major metropolitan areas of Bangladesh. Dhaka, located at the centre of Bangladesh, is the main commercial and administrative hub of the country, while Chittagong, situated in the south, has the main seaport, accounting for 90 percent of imports and exports. About a quarter of the country’s population lives in the Dhaka-Chittagong corridor.
The new expressway will provide an alternative to the existing 250-kilometer Dhaka-Chittagong highway which like other major road networks in the country has become congested.
The country’s roads carry more than 70 percent of passengers and 60 percent of freights, and this is expected to rise 6.4 percent annually up to 2015.
The Dhaka-Chittagong Expressway will also be part of the Asian Highway network of 141,000 kilometers of roads through Asia and linking Asia to Europe.
The expressway will be part of government efforts to tap the private sector to finance costly infrastructure. Under its Sixth Five-Year Plan (2011-2015), the country aims to triple investment in infrastructure from 2 percent to 6 percent of GDP through private sources of funds. The design should be completed and approved by the Government in 2015.