The National Economic Council Executive Committee (Ecnec) on Tuesday approved a plan to build 317 kilometres of new roads along the country’s south-eastern border by June 2021, to aid in the fight against smuggling and to boost trade and tourism.
The project is one of 16 approved in an Ecnec meeting chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at Sher-e-Bangla Nagar in Dhaka on Tuesday, at a total cost of Tk9,680 crore.
“The construction of roads in that region is crucial because of its susceptibility to weapon and drug smuggling and human trafficking,” Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal told journalists after the meeting.
Bangladesh's south-eastern hill region shares 330km of border with India and 210km with Myanmar.
“Border roads on the rugged hilly frontiers will enable Border Guard Bangladesh and other security forces to enforce a tightened vigil and help expansion of trade and commerce in Southeast Asia and tourism facilities in the hilly areas,” the minister said.
The Roads and Highways Department and the army's Special Works Organization have been tasked with building the roads in Naikhongchhari upazila of Bandarban, Juraichhari, Borkol and Rajsthali of Rangamati, Baghaichhari of Khagrachhari, and Ukhiya of Cox's Bazar.
Of the proposed 317km of roads, 40km will be constructed on the Ukhia-Ashartoli-Fooltuli route, 52km on Sajek-Shildah-Betling, 95km on Sajek-Dokanghat-Thegamukh, and 130km on Thegamukh-Loitongpara-Thachhi-Dumdumia-Rajsthali route.
AHM Mustafa Kamal added that the Tk1,699.85 crore project is expected to help the marketing of agricultural produce to boost economic activities, thus generating employment opportunities for the local people.
Also on Tuesday, Ecnec approved another important project to repair and conduct maintenance work of important 15 district highways under Dhaka to ensure smooth road communication.
Roads and Highways Department under the Ministry of Road Transport and Bridges will implement the project titled “district highways upgradation in due standard and width (Dhaka zone)” at an estimated cost of Tk558.44 crore.