Users will have to pay tolls on upgraded Dhaka-Sylhet highway

The government will impose tolls on the Dhaka-Sylhet Highway after it is upgraded to four lanes, Planning Minister MA Mannan has said.

He made the disclosure at a media briefing after the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council approved the Dhaka-Sylhet road development project on Tuesday.

The planning minister also explained the reasons for spending more funds to develop the Dhaka-Sylhet highway than it did on other similar projects.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina presided over the ECNEC meeting. "The prime minister said tolls would have to be collected once the construction work on the road was completed," said Mannan.

Hasina also directed the authorities to make arrangements to collect tolls from all major roads in the country, according to Mannan.

“The prime minister said that the toll money should be deposited in an earmarked account, which can be used to carry out repairs on those roads."

The 210-kilometre highway is being upgraded to four lanes with the aim of strengthening economic and trading ties by establishing direct road links between South Asia countries.

The estimated cost of the project is Tk 169.18 billion, the second-highest among four-lane highways with over Tk 800 million per kilometre.

The Asian Development Bank is financing the project, with the government providing Tk 36.73 billion.

By comparison, the cost to develop the Dhaka-Chattogram Highway into four lanes was Tk 210 million per kilometre while the ongoing Sylhet-Tamabil Highway project will cost Tk 640 million per kilometre.

On the increase in expenditure for the Dhaka-Sylhet Highway project, the planning minister said, "The prime minister has said quality cannot be compromised by cutting corners.

"This a huge project. It includes a 5-kilometre elevated expressway. We have to take its cost into account as well. There will also be service lanes on both sides.”

The highway will also come with various facilities for travellers and drivers, according to the minister.

"While discussing the project, the prime minister said there should be a designated spot (for commuters) to rest and a place to take refreshments on the way to the road. It should have a nice washroom and changing rooms and seating arrangements for women.”