The year 2022 will be a landmark for the country’s road, rail communication system, opening up a new scope to boost economic growth, experts say.
The much anticipated three mega projects - Padma Bridge, Metrorail and Karnaphuli Tunnel – are going to be completed next year, bringing hopes and aspirations among the people.
“Vehicles will be able to cross the Padma Bridge next year, Metrorail will also start running at full speed and the construction work of Karnaphuli tunnel will also be completed. These three big projects will add a different dimension to Bangladesh's progress,” said Ahsan H Mansoor, Executive Director of the Policy Research Institute (PRI).
“In that situation, the countrymen will get a different Bangladesh from 2023,” he said, adding that the entrepreneurs are making investment plans keeping focus on all these development situations.
"We think that 2022 will be a special year for Bangladesh as three major development projects of the government - Padma Bridge, Metrorail and Karnaphuli Tunnel will be open for traffic between June and December next year," said an official of the Ministry of Road Transport and Bridges.
He said, “Padma Bridge is scheduled to be inaugurated in June next year, then Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel under Karnaphuli River and Metrorail will be inaugurated in December under MRT-6 project.
"Actually, the journey of a different Bangladesh will begin in 2022 as traffic on the dream Padma Bridge will start, the Metrorail will run from north to south of the capital and the tunnel under the Karnaphuli River will be opened in the southeastern port city of Chottogram by that time," said the official.
“The tunnel will reduce the distance between Cox's Bazar and Chottogram by 40 km,” he added.
State Minister for State Minister for Planning Shamsul Alam said that 2022 will be an important year for the economy of Bangladesh and it will be the year to take Bangladesh on a new highway of development.
"So, a new chapter of Bangladesh's development will begin under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's leadership from 2023," he said while talking to journalists recently.
He said different development partners, including the World Bank, have estimated that if the Padma Bridge is launched, it will add 1 percent to Bangladesh's GDP growth. Metrorail and Karnaphuli tunnel will also add a significant share to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), he added.
Before the construction of the Jamuna Multipurpose Bridge or Bangabandhu Bridge, the World Bank had said that this bridge would increase the GDP growth of Bangladesh by 0.6 percent. But after its launch, it is seen that the bridge may contribute more than expected. Economists believe that the Padma Bridge will further contribute to the economy of Bangladesh.
According to the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) the impact of the Padma Bridge in the southern part of the country would be immense. The biggest thing is that the communication time by road and rail will be reduced by four hours. This will not only make it easier for people to travel but also new business opportunities are expected to be created in the southern part.
Before the construction of the bridge began, it had done a pre-feasibility study and had estimated that if this bridge is built, the country's GDP growth rate could increase up to 1 percent but the current reality is much more than that assumption.
The market for agricultural products will be big and farmers will be able to send their products to the capital and the income of the people in the south will increase.
Because of this bridge, exports-imports through Mongla Port will witness a rise and if communication improves, there will be new industrialization in the south, many people will get jobs there and the tendency of people to come to Dhaka will decrease, said BIDS.
The experimental journey of Metrorail has created optimism and excitement among the people across the country. The length of Metrorail, the dream project of Dhaka dwellers with the financial and technical assistance of Japan, is 20.10 km. The train will run from Uttara to capital's business hub Motijheel.
At present, it takes two to two and a half hours to travel from Uttara to Motijheel but the Metrorail, once launched, would take only 36 minutes and it will be able to carry approximately 60,000 passengers per hour both way.
According to transport experts, the launch of Metrorail will reduce traffic congestion in Dhaka and increase GDP by 1 percent. The unbearable traffic jam in Dhaka is not only increasing the suffering of the people, the country is also suffering economically.
Bangabandhu Tunnel of Karnaphuli
The project of great pride for the government is the Bangabandhu Tunnel under the Karnaphuli River. Such a path is the first in the history of the country and this underwater tunnel will reduce the distance between Cox's Bazar and Chittagong by 40 km. Vehicles from Cox's Bazar and South Chittagong will be able to travel across the country, including the capital Dhaka, through the tunnel, avoiding Chittagong city. So, the traffic congestion in the port city will reduce to a large extent.
China Communication Construction Company (CCCC) and China Road and Bridge Engineering Company (CRBC) are building the tunnel at a cost of Tk 9,880 crore, to turn Chottogram into ‘One City Two Towns’ following the model of Shanghai city in China.