Bus rapid transit project implementation delayed, costs double
Hopes for a quick bus ride on Dhaka city’s bumpy North Corridor soon seem dashed, with the priority project now turning into a ‘lame duck’ allegedly for planning a shift and a shaky execution.
Sources say that a ray of hope has sparked an improvement in the condition of the roads from Uttara to Joydevpur in the near future with the implementation of the Rapid Bus Line (BRT) construction project. But that is fading as frustration persists among the agencies involved in the work to implement the reserved bus lane between the busy highway for a lot of hassle.
The FE correspondent not only finds the road users who suffer greatly from the construction of the BRT line in an anarchic state but also the project implementing agencies who struggle to manage the daily work in an orderly manner.
The Roads and Highways Department (RHD) and Bangladesh Bridge Authority (BBA) privately express low hopes for the completion of the project, even in a prolonged timeframe at the current rate.
Officially, it is stated that the 20.2-kilometer BRT line will be open to traffic by December of this year, having extended the schedule by six months from next June.
Transport experts also express their frustrations with the project from another perspective, believing that it would ultimately only do a service for what they call flaws from the study level to planning. and implementation.
They claim that the BRT North project turned out to be feasible due to the pickup and transportation of commuters from BRT South or BRT 3 – which was supposed to go to Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA) in Sayedabad in the corridor. south to Joydevpur Shibchar terminal. .
But as BRT 3 was eventually abandoned by the government, the viability of BRT Gazipur-Airport, known as BRT North, is in question.
Rather, they believe that building a 10-lane road on the BRT corridor “could be a simpler and better solution to traffic congestion with less suffering for commuters.”
Sources from the project office say RHD and BBA are still struggling to get the two Chinese subcontractors to work on schedule in their respective fields on schedule, even after it was revised a few months earlier.
According to the monthly report, the work of the RHD part was overdue by more than 1,700 days while that of BBA by almost 1,500 days until December 15th. The time of the two entrepreneurs has elapsed by 185.15% and 159% respectively.
RHD is expected to develop a dedicated two-lane bus lane as well as 25 stations and widen the existing road into four lanes. With another two-lane road remaining for slow vehicles, a total 10-lane road is now being developed from Joydevpur to the airport.
Besides RHD and BBA, the local government’s engineering department was involved in the Tk 40 billion project, but its work to develop the depot and connecting roads has been completed in the meantime.
Visiting the busiest corridor twice in December, this correspondent found parts of structures such as the five-lane Tongi Bridge, the U-loop at Joydevpur crossing, an elevated road near the airport and stations. on the lane reserved for developed buses.
But further work to complete the flyover or the bridges connecting one side to the other was not seen. The Tongi Bridge can be seen past Uttara, but more than a kilometer of structure is missing after the Turag River, then work is done on the ramp.
The same goes for the elevated road that started near the airport – there was an interruption until Muscat Square, although ready beams were found in the middle of the road.
No work on stilts or jetties has been developed on this part.
The state of the project also displeases transport expert Professor Mohammed Shamsul Hoque. He claims that the government threw the ax on its own by taking this project without considering the traffic of the industrial belt, the northern districts as selling as an alternative route to divert them.
âThis is a captive corridor but there is no planning for it. Lack of professionalism is also present in the management of the project, which has caused pain to the people as well as the implementing agencies of the project. now, “the FE engineering professor said, echoing the reporter’s tone of frustration.
He also said the project did not envision smart construction on this busy corridor by bringing in modern technology, but awarded the two works at a cost lower than the estimated cost.
Transport experts say the number of users rose from 40,000 to 60,000 per day at the time of the study, but there is a lack of measures to effectively manage vehicles. Even the road under the constructed bridge or the elevated road was also not carpeted to ease the pain of road users.
The road after passing the Dhaka Bypass looks like a village road with uneven brick sidewalks, including in front of the Borsha Cinema Hall. The paved road was also damaged due to the pressure of heavy vehicles.
This correspondent walked the corridor from Uttara in half an hour early in the morning but returned home after wasting two hours in the afternoon due to heavy traffic and slow driving for the poor condition of the road.
However, the project manager, Mr. Shafiqul Islam, claims that the condition of the road on the RHD part is better as the contractor recently made the two-lane road on both sides of the BRT corridor usable with carpet.
Responding to questions about the missing link and the extent of work remaining on the BRT reserved lane, the PD says, âThe road under the elevated bridge and Tongi is bad, which cannot be blamed on RHD.
Shafiqul Islam, also CEO of BRT’s multiple implementation agency, admits that the two contractors are late every month, even after its review. âWe have continued to press for the majority to work during the current dry season,â he says.
Project officials say a cash shortage was noted in both cases of the entrepreneurs, and the RHD informed the Chinese Embassy here of the slow progress made by the country’s entrepreneurs without a pragmatic solution.
They find that companies lack manpower, equipment etc. for which the working schedule cannot be resumed.
“It is very difficult to carry out the work between the busy roads. Even bringing machines to the site is not easy either – you should always be afraid of accidents,” said an official, preferring not to be named. because it is not. a media spokesperson.
The development of the BRT corridor is the cheapest and fastest project among all infrastructure projects in the world. But the RHD project taken as part of the busy corridors development project was identified as an expensive project.
After two revisions, the cost of the project doubles to 42.68 billion Tk against 20.4 billion Tk. Recently another review is underway. Due to unforeseen development, RHD and BBA both faced problems of drainage system development, land acquisition and relocation of utilities, especially the 33KV power line after the bridge over. Tongi, after the contractors started construction work late.
RHD took the BRT project under the Greater Dhaka Sustainable Urban Transport Project with financial support mainly from the Asian Development Bank which carried out a feasibility study in 2012.
The project was taken when the government planned to develop BRT Line 3 as part of the strategic transport plan from the airport to Sayedabad. But the BRT 3 was jettisoned by the government after a feasibility study and detailed design work.
As part of the GDSUT project, a 20 kilometer bus lane with 24 stations, a 4.5 km raised bus lane, a 10 lane Tongi bridge, seven overflights, a bus terminal, 113 access roads and a 24 km drainage system on both sides of the Joydevpur crossing at Turag River will be developed.
Among the two Chinese companies, Genzhouba (CGCG) won the works for the value of its Tk 8.5 billion contract, which started in April 2017, while Jiangsu (JTEG) with its contract value of 9.3 billion Tk, which started in December 2017. Both contractors however started the works in January 2020.