Dhaka-Mawa-Bhanga Expressway, the country’s first-ever international standard expressway, will open up a new era of road connectivity between the capital and south and southwestern parts of the country, reducing travel time by several hours.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will open the newly-constructed 55-km eye-catching expressway to traffic through videoconferencing from her official residence Ganobhaban on Thursday.
The expressway, having two service lanes, five flyovers, 19 underpasses, two interchanges, four railway over-bridges, four large bridges, 25 small bridges and 54 culverts, was constructed to ensure uninterrupted movement of vehicles with the southern parts of the country.
The high-speed superhighway will contribute to the national economy by boosting trade and commerce in the country as it will significantly improve the connectivity between Dhaka city, and the entire Khulna and Barishal divisions and parts of Dhaka division.
The people of 22 districts in the country’s south and southwestern region, including Munshiganj, will directly be benefited from the modern expressway.
Commuters can get the full advantage of the expressway once the 6.15-km Padma Bridge is completed as it will connect the two parts -- 35-km Jatrabari intersection to Mawa and 20-km Panchar to Bhanga -– of the expressway. The government has planned to open the country’s longest bridge for traffic by June 2021.
It now takes 5-7 hours to reach Faridpur from Dhaka using the two-lane road, which witnesses nagging traffic congestions at different points, and ferries in Mawa.
But the journey will not needlessly be longer because of traffic gridlock and slow-moving vehicles as the expressway was constructed with controlled access. Two service lanes are kept on both sides of the expressway for slow-moving vehicles so that speedy vehicles can move uninterruptedly.
The expressway was constructed at a cost of Tk 11,003.90 crore considering the next 20-year traffic volume on the highway, which will be part of the Asian Highway, connecting Dhaka and Kolkata through the Benapole border and making international journey more comfortable.
The Roads and Highways Department and Bangladesh Army under the supervision of the Road Transport and Highways Division implemented the expressway project that was approved by Ecnec in 2016.
Now, the expressway which was completed three months before the stipulated time of June 2020 is being opened on the eve of the ‘Mujib Borsho’ marking the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Visiting the Jatrabari-Mawa portion of the expressway on Tuesday, it was seen that workers were giving the final touch on the expressway on the eve of its formal commissioning. Now, the expressway partly remains opened to traffic.
Mohammad Masud, owner of roadside Nirala Restaurant in Mawa, said it will take only 30-40 minutes instead of two hours to travel to Dhaka from Mawa as there will be no traffic jam on the expressway.
It used to take 30- 60 minutes to cross the Postagola railway crossing, but now it is a matter of 5-10 seconds to cross the spot using the expressway, he said.
“Many people now want to build houses and other establishments in our area due to improved communication system,” Masud said, adding that he believes that their area will turn into a tourist spot.
Arif Chowdhury, a British-Bangladeshi who visited the expressway, said, “It’s amazing. I can’t believe it. It seems to me that I’m somewhere in the UK. The quality and beauty of this expressway gives me a proud feeling.”
Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader on Tuesday said the Dhaka-Mawa-Bhanga Expressway is the first-ever expressway in Bangladesh. “It’s not a four-lane highway, rather a six-lane one, including two service lanes,” he added.
“It’s a very eye-catching road. I think it’ll outshine many eye-catching roads in Europe. It was constructed with an excellent design,” he said, adding that a plantation move is underway to enhance the greenery view on both sides of the expressway.
Quader said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her younger sister Sheikh Rehana will go to Tungipara this month using this expressway.