Following government's decision to collect tolls from vehicles on national highways, authorities are going to form a high-powered committee to fix the toll rates. Sources at the roads and highways department (RHD) said money collected from vehicles will be spent for maintenance of roads and highways across the country.
RHD has already started outlining strategies on how the tolls will be collected from the vehicles. Following recommendations of the high powered committee, the roads and highways department will prepare a proposal in this regard, an official of RHD said. Sources said the government initially is considering to collect tolls from long-haul vehicles that ply on Dhaka-Chittagong, Dhaka Rangpur, Dhaka-Faridpur (Bhanga) and Joyedevpur-Mymensingh highways.
On September 3, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council meeting directed the authorities concerned to collect tolls from vehicles using the national highways alongside bridges. According to RHD sources, following the prime minister directive, the authorities concerned have begun working on it. The directive necessitated to construct various establishments and infrastructures on the national highways by RHD in order to collect tolls from long-haul vehicles.
Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader on Wednesday said his ministry has already started working on toll collection from the roads and highways. "All passenger vehicles those ply on the national highways will have to pay tolls. Like other developed countries, we also should have a practice to pay tolls for using bridges on the roads and highways," he told reporters at his secretariat.
Obaidul Quader, also ruling Awami League General Secretary, said like developed countries, an arrangement will have to be made to realize tolls on the highways like Dhaka-Chattogram, Dhaka-Sylhet, Dhaka-Rangpur and Dhaka-Mymensingh, Mannan. "Our ministry is set to chalk out the amount of toll to be collected from long-haul vehicles. Based on the categories of the roads and highways and vehicles, the amount toll will be fixed. And the work is on in this regard," he said.
"I think there will be no impact on collecting tolls from the national roads and highways," Obaidul Quader said. However, sources said most roads in the country are in a sorry state with full of potholes, causing frequent accidents and loss of lives. Besides, passengers are going through serious sufferings due to tailbacks on the roads and highways, and the new barriers will be created to traffic if toll boxes are set up on the highways.
The intensity of traffic jams will be increased while valuable times of passengers will be wasted if the toll system is introduced, sources said. Meanwhile, transport owners, drivers, passengers and the common people have already opposed the government's proposal.