June 24, 2024, 12:39 pm

Incomplete overpasses turn into ‘neck thorn’ for northern commuters, motorists

  • Update Time : Saturday, May 18, 2024
  • 534 Time View
The view of under construction overpass, which work is going on at a snail's pace. The photo was taken on Saturday from the western side of Bangabandhu Jamuna Bridge near Sirajganj Economic Zone. Photo: TDS

Elenga-Rangpur 4-Lane Project

Special Correspondent:

At least 15 incomplete overpasses of the under construction Elenga-Rangpur Four-Lane Project have now turned into ‘neck thorn’ for thousands of commuters and motorists, who travel between the capital and the northern region.

Due to snail’s pace of construction works, it is being apprehended that, the commuters, especially who have to return homes during the upcoming Eid-ul-Azha, one of the largest religious festivals of the Muslims, may face immense suffering for long-standing gridlocks at the points.

Though, the authorities concerned assure to complete the work of some points before the Eid holidays, experts are still suspicious over the assurance given by the concerned officials.

Experts said, if the construction works of the overpasses are not completed, the suffering of the commuters will increase largely during the upcoming Eid-ul-Azha. Besides, the carrying of sacrificial cattle to different destinations with trucks will be difficult.

During a spot visit to different points located between western side of Bangabandhu Jamuna Multipurpose Bridge and Modern intersection of Rangpur, The Daily Sky correspondent found that, works of many sites have not yet been completed due to various reasons including negligence by the contractors and concerned officials.

Of them, the construction works of most points including Economic Zone (western side of the bride), Jhaoil, Ghurka, Bhuiyangati and Raiganj Cross-lane in the Sirajganj part, Chandaikona Bogura Bazar, Dhankunti, Chhonka, Mirzapur and Medical College in Bogura part, Gabindaganj Bazar, Gaibandha intersection and Polashbari Bazar in Gaibandha part, Pirganj Bazar, Baldipukur Bus Tarminal in Mithapukur, Shotibari and Boro Mirzapur in Rangpur part have remained incomplete so far, though over eight years have already crossed after starting of the project.

Surprisingly, the work of Gobindaganj and Palashbari point in Gaibandha district is yet to be started. The authorities concerned blamed several complexities including land acquisition for the snail’s pace of the project works.

On the other hand, the extended period of the project will also end by December. There is doubt whether the entire work will be completed in this short time!

As a result, those overpasses are now being considered as thorn of throat for the commuters and motorists as thousands of commuters and vehicles from the capital and 16 districts of the Rajshahi and Rangpur Divisions and six other districts of the Khulna Division use those routes regularly for their movements and transportation of goods including agricultural products.

Besides, on average 28,000 vehicles from different parts of the country pass throughout the Bangabandhu Bridge on the Jamuna river almost every day. Most of those vehicles face gridlocks due to construction works of the overpasses in the northern region, drivers said.

With the financial assistance of Asian Development Bank (ADB), the work of 190 km Tangail-Rangpur four-lane began in 2016.

If the 4-lane is completely operational, it will be possible to reach anywhere of the 16 districts in the northern region especially Rangpur within short time.

In the beginning, the construction cost of the project was estimated at Tk 11,899 crore. It was said that, the work will be completed by August, 2021.

Due to lack of progress even after the deadline, the duration of the project was extended further along with the costs.

Now this project has stood at Tk 16,662 crore with an increase of Tk 4,763 crore. And the new completion deadline has been fixed until next December.

Sources said, thousands of vehicles ply on this highway every day. Long traffic jams sometimes occur at several points due to expansion work of the road. Especially when Eid comes, the situation becomes complicated.

Meanwhile, people of the country have started to take preparation for celebrating Eid-ul-Azha. Huge quantity of people from different parts of the country will return to their homes with a view to celebrate Eid festival. Besides, the number of sacrificial cattle laden trucks will be increased on the roads and highways across the country centering the Eid-ul-Azha. Holidaymakers from Dhaka, Chattogram and other parts of the country will come to northern region and will go back after celebrating Eid with their near and dear ones.

But, it has now become matter of concern that, if the work of certain points is not completed before Eid, there is a fear of sufferings.

It is to be mentioned that, the mega project is being implemented by South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC-II). Although, it looks like a modern highway, its main purpose is to create a communication network between South Asian countries and connect to the SASEC Corridor, Asian Corridor and BIMSTEC Corridor.

According to the project schedule, the main highway will be turned into four lanes. There will be service lanes on the both sides of the highway. Meanwhile, the work of new railway station is underway on the both sides of Jamuna Bridge. Sirajganj Economic Zone is being established on the western side of Jamuna Bridge. An overpass is being constructed nearby the site.

The work of installing ramp is going on some places, but the pillars of under construction overpass have remained standing empty at many points.

The road will be connected after installing girders. The work of carpeting work is going on at some places.

There is a flyover at Kodda area, also the gateway of the Sirajganj town. Traffic congestion is almost being noticed at Hatikumrul intersection area, locally known as Sirajganj Road, also about 22 km away from Bangabandhu Jamuna Bridge, as the work of largest interchange is going on there. Pillars are being installed here. Many establishments including different multistoried buildings located at Hatikumrul area have already been demolished for the project work. A Highway Service Zone is being constructed on this part of the highway for drivers and passengers in order to they can take rest for a while during their travel.

The work of Side Road has not yet been completed at Banani area, Majhira Cantonment and Noymile areas.

Mohammad Riaz Uddin, Engineer of Concord Pragatee Consortium Ltd (CPCL) and also recruited contractor of this part told The Daily Sky that, “The workers are working hard for about 24 hours. In this situation, we are expecting to complete the work soon.”

“After completion of the work, the suffering of the commuters will also come to reduce,” he added.

Traffic congestion occurs at 17 places out of 45 km of Bogura section of the highway. Among them, Matidali Biman Bandar Morh, Gokul, Momo Inn hotel of TMSS, Baghopara, Naodapara, Banani, Tinmatha, Majhira, Phatki Bridge, Phultala, Medical College, B-Block and Ariya are mentionable. The work is going on at a turtle pace at Banani, Matidali, Gokul, Naodapara and TMSS areas.

Asaduzzaman, Engineer of Monico Limited and the appointed contractor of this part of the project claimed that, they will be able to complete the work by a certain period.

On the other hand, the work of road expansion by demolishing buildings has started in Gobindaganj and Palashbari sections after eight years of the project starting. At this point, the work of the overpass has not yet been started.

Road construction work from Damdama Bridge in Mithapukur of Rangpur district to Bairagiganj is still ongoing.

Construction of Baldipukur bus terminal’s underpass has not yet been completed. The work of one side of the 3 km section up to Gorer Matha has not been completed.

Construction of underpass is going on near Shatibari market, which is known as one of the famous commercial markets in the north.

About two kilometers away from it, the construction of the underpass in front of Boro Mirzapur Adarsha School and College is also underway. Construction of automatic toll plaza is going on in Payara Port’s Islampur area. Other infrastructures will be built there as per the schedule.

What the authorities are saying about those?

Several SASEC officials said that, there are two packages of 13 and 30 km east and west of Jamuna Bridge. The pace of work is comparatively slow here. Altogether, even 50 percent of these two projects have not been completed. Land acquisition work has been started in Gobindganj in Gaibandha district. There is a big market, which are being demolished. But, it’s too late for the work, they said.

SASEC-2 (Package-8) official Nasheed Hasan Siraji said that, “Once, the work of four lanes of the highway is completed; there will be radical changes in the industry and trade of the northern region.”

The work of four lanes from Sherpur to Banani in Bogura district is going on under the package number-8 (Mirzapur to Banani) by CPCL Tantia JV Company. At the beginning of the project, the contracting company could not work for 19 months due to the complexity of land acquisition in this part.

Mamun Qaiser, Manager of the package, said that, “We faced trouble over acquiring lands in our part. This is why, there is doubt about completing the work in the specified time.”

Dr. Waliur Rahman, PD of SASEC-2 said that, “The work of the project has been delayed due to Corona pandemic. Now we are giving top priority to this work. Among the project works, about 80 percent work of Elenga section in Tangail and 85 percent work of Hatikmurul to Rangpur section have already been completed. Hopefully, the new working hours will not need to be extended.

Shorforaz, SDE of SASEC-2 project, who is involved with the work of Hatikumrul Interchange Project, told The Daily Sky that, the work was scheduled to be completed by December 2023. But due to delay in land acquisition, we now need additional time until December 2025. However, we are trying to complete the works of overpasses before Eid-ul-Azha in which homebound people can return to their homes safely. Besides, cattle laden trucks can run smoothly without any hassle.”

Arifur Rahman Mandal, Superintendent of Police in Sirajganj said, “Sirajganj District police in collaboration with highway and traffic police will work together during the Eid to ensure smooth movement of the vehicles and commuters on the highway.”



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