- 854 km of highways upgraded to 4 lanes or more, completed by June 2023
- A lane expansion project was carried out for a three-kilometer section at the Cox’s Bazar end
- With the construction of “Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Highway”, Bangladesh’s road communication system has entered a new era
- On December 2023, Bangladesh will inaugurate two Smart Highways which will incorporate a vehicle detection system, surveillance camera, automated number plate, speed detection mechanism and variable messaging sign
With dynamic growth and progress characterizing Bangladesh, the country boasts an expansive road network spanning 21,483.21 kilometers, a crucial infrastructure supporting the seamless movement of passengers, goods, and freight nationwide.
As each year unfolds, Bangladesh experiences a rising surge in the number of vehicles, emphasizing the crucial role played by highways in facilitating widespread travel. While expressways have garnered recent attention, the conventional highways of Bangladesh continue to be essential components of the nation’s long-distance transportation network.
A mere 84.81 km of highways possessed 4 or more lanes as of 2008. Subsequently, in 2009, the government embraced a policy aimed at constructing highways with 4 or more lanes to enhance traffic flow and safety. Consequently, 854 km of highways have been upgraded to 4 lanes or more through diverse development projects, reaching completion by June 2023.
In alignment with the execution strategy outlined in Vision Plan 2041, the country upgraded highways to connect seamlessly with South Asian counterparts, economic zones, and key infrastructure. This initiative, aimed at expediting and securing transportation, has notably benefited passenger and cargo movement.
Moreover, education and healthcare progresshave extended to the remote hilly and low-lying areas, promoting the country’s tourism sector. Uninterrupted road connectivity has not only augmented agricultural production and marketing but has also enhanced food security.
Journeying Along Bangladesh’s Vital Highways Upgradation
Currently, about 574 km of highways are being upgraded to 4 lanes or sub-lanes in multiple projects. Following the Prime Minister’s directives, separate lanes for slow-moving vehicles were incorporated in the National Highway 4-lane upgrade. This resulted in 133 km of highways having dedicated lanes for slow-moving vehicles on both sides.Top of Form
Through the addition of multiple new lanes to existing highways, coupled with the construction of distinct service lanes and the integration of the main lanes with the local road system, the separation of fast and slow-moving vehicles has led to a reduction in road accidents.
How the recent development of highways have reduced road accidents?For many years our most important national highways remained two lanes with little or no divider. Vehicles from both directions flow recklessly which caused a number of devastating road accidents in the past. But the present government has put great emphasis on the development of the highways especially increasing the number of lanes, widening the approach roads and construction of service lanes are essentially core initiatives that reduced the risks of road accidents. In recent years, road accidents in Dhaka-Chattogram highway and Dhaka-Mymensingh highway reduced significantly. Government has already taken a plan to upgrade Dhaka-Sylhet and Dhaka-Rangpur Highway. Upgrading the national highways and other roads, continuous maintenance is the priority of government which is a good sign for flawless connectivity and lessening the road accidents. Installation of cameras and speed guns in important points of the roads are one of the great initiatives in recent times. These initiatives will surely enforce safe driving and abiding traffic rules. Eventually road accidents will be reduced. Government has a plan to develop smart roads in future. If the plans adopted by government can be implemented successfully, we can hope that number road accidents can be lessened significantly.
In order to ease traffic congestion at Shah Amanat (R.) Bridge (3rd Karnaphuli Bridge), a comprehensive 5 km highway upgrade has been implemented, dividing the stretch from Bahaddar Hat to the bridge’s terminus into four lanes, with separate service lanes. Additionally, a lane expansion project was carried out for a three-kilometer section at the Cox’s Bazar end.
The Rangpur Divisional City underwent a significant expansion initiative aimed to enhance trade relations with India and Nepal through the land route, streamlining the transportation of goods to both the capital city of Dhaka and the ports of Chittagong and Mongla. As part of this development, an 8.24 km internal highway and an 8 km bypass highway were upgraded to a 4-lane configuration, further improving the overall transportation infrastructure and promoting efficient trade networks within the region.
The 190.48 km stretch of highway connecting Daudkandi to the Chittagong City Gate, a crucial segment of the Dhaka-Chittagong National Highway recognized as the Economic Lifeline, underwent a significant enhancement. Given that a substantial portion of the country’s import-export activities relies on this route, the expansion has considerably eased traffic flow.
Undergoing a significant transformation, the Jatrabari-Kanchpur highway, measuring 54.23 km, has been rebranded as the ‘Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Highway.’ The expansion includes the conversion to 8-lanes, featuring 6-lane roads with dedicated service lanes and 4-lane main roads on both sides.
With the construction of this expressway, Bangladesh’s road communication system has entered a new era. This thoroughfare facilitates communication on both sides of the Padma bridge, leading to a significant improvement in the communication infrastructure of southern districts such as Gopalganj, Bagerhat, Khulna, Satkhira, Barisal, and Dhaka.
Countdown to Smart Highways in 2024
Beyond current lane upgrades, December 2023 will witness the inauguration of Bangladesh’s smart highway on the Dhaka-Mawa Expressway, while a second one connecting Joydebpur to Rangpur is anticipated to be operational by the following December.Officials emphasize that the primary focus of these projects is to enhance road safety through the implementation of the Intelligent Transport System (ITS), featuring a vehicle detection system, surveillance cameras, automated number plate recognition cameras, speed detection mechanisms, and variable messaging signs.
The Roads and Highway Department (RHD) officials confirmed that efforts are in progress to implement the technology along the 250-kilometre Joydebpur-Rangpur highway by December 2024, with support from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), which amounts to $15 million.
As an integral component of a regional highway construction endeavor facilitated by the South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC), the Joydebpur-Rangpur smart highway is positioned as a key corridor within the SASEC framework.
Riyad SA Husain, Managing Director of National Development Engineers (NDE) Infratech said, “Ensuring road safety for our citizens necessitates the widespread adoption of ITS on all highways. This system allows for a faster turnaround time in case of accidents, enabling swift and effective action.”
In the fast-evolving landscape of Bangladesh’s infrastructure, the transformation of its highways has not only connected distant regions but has become a catalyst for economic growth, trade efficiency, and enhanced safety. From the strategic Vision Plan 2041 to the ongoing upgrades, each lane added, and each kilometer expanded tells a tale of progress.
Looking forward, the impending arrival of smart highways in 2024 marks a leap into a technologically advanced era.As we welcome these innovations, we lay the groundwork for a future that is not only safer but also smarter and interconnected.