The communication sector – roads and railway – has been allocated the largest portion of the proposed budget for fiscal year 2013-14, getting Tk182.33bn, including a special allocation for the construction of the Padma bridge.
Proposing the budget in parliament Thursday, Finance Minister AMA Muhith said the government had already made some visible progress in the communication sector.
“At this stage, we have adopted several programmes to improve the public transport system of Dhaka and Chittagong cities. Most of the programmes are currently running,” he said.
The programmes are a project to build 20km MRT Line 6 from Uttara to Motijheel with a capacity to carry nearly 35,000 passengers an hour and a project of 20km Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) from Shahjalal International Airport to Gazipur.
Muhith said the feasibility study for the construction of Dhaka-Ashulia expressway – from airport to Chandra under public-private partnership (PPP) – has been completed while the construction of Moghbazar-Mouchak flyover had been started. The project to connect the Mayor Mohammad Hanif flyover with the elevated expressway is almost complete too.
The government has been working on a number of projects to ease traffic congestion in Chittagong city, such as Chittagong city outer ring road, flyovers at Bahadderhat junction and other areas and expansion of the existing roads. The feasibility study for construction of a tunnel underneath the Karnaphuli River in Chittagong has also been completed, Muhith said.
Describing the next plans to develop the transport sector, he said following a 20-year Road Master Plan, the government was giving more emphasis on repair and maintenance of the existing roads rather than constructing new ones. “We have plans to raise a fund to ensure regular funding needed for road maintenance. A draft on Road Maintenance Fund Board Act 2013 has been finalised.”
Proposing Tk200m for road safety campaign, the minister said: “The government is considering it to be high time to ensure road safety as the citizens of the country are raising their voices for it. Allocation for specific projects to ensure road safety will be given from this block allocation.”
Terming the construction of Padma Multipurpose Bridge one of the prioritised development projects of the present government, he said: “We will use an Indian grant of $200m for this project. We will be able to mobilise funding from Islamic Development Bank and from a few other development partners.
“We had no other alternative but to begin the implementation of this project with own funding arrangements. So, the government has decided to allocate a total of Tk68.52bn for the Padma Multipurpose Bridge as a special allocation.”
On the railway sector, he said the government was planning to improve the sector and connect regional and international railway networks. “We are taking immediate steps to mobilise support from the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, China and India in this regard. This plan will be implemented over the next five years.
“As part of the Railway Master Plan, we have taken initiatives to connect our railway network with India, Nepal and Bhutan. At the same time we are finalising our design and study for the construction of new railway lines to establish connectivity with the Trans-Asian Railway. Upgrading Dhaka-Chittagong railway corridor to a double lane one is underway,” he said.
Muhith also said the work for finalising the detailed design and feasibility study for the construction of the second Bhairab and the second Titas bridges was underway. Besides, a feasibility study for the construction of a separate dual-gauge rail bridge parallel to the Bangabandhu Bridge is in progress.