Vol. 5 Num 317 Mon. April 18, 2005  
Star City

No free rides for commuters on the Gulistan-Jatrabari flyover

Dhaka City Corporation (DCC)'s plan to construct the Gulistan-Jatrabari flyover could become an unwanted burden for citizens as they will have pay to use it.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved in principle the seven-kilometre flyover project to be implemented by a joint venture of Bangladesh, United Arab Emirates and India under build, own and operate basis. If the Prime Minister endorses the project, Orion of Bangladesh, UAE's Belhasa and Indian Acom will work together to connect Jatrabari with Gulistan in 30 to 36 months at a cost of Tk 710 crore.

The flyover will have six entry and exit points and four lanes on either side. Vehicles that will pass through it will have to pay tolls according to their characteristics.

For motorcycles, the rate is five Taka, a CNG-run autorickshaw has to pay ten Taka, cars Tk 35, jeeps Tk 40,microbuses Tk 50, minibuses Tk 100 and trailers and lorries Tk 200.

The toll will be revised after every three years according to the inflation rate. The contractor of the flyover will own it for 24 years and then the DCC will take over. The DCC will get a five per cent share of profit from the income from the flyover.

"Nowhere in the third world you have to pay to commute inside a city," said a top government official.

More alarming for commuters is the fact that they will have to spend money to use the at grade roads of the flyover as they have been leased out to the contractor by the DCC. It is mentioned in the cabinet division approved project paper that the contractor will be empowered to construct, operate, maintain and collect tolls of the flyover. At grade roads will be given to the company as mortgage and it will only become free from toll collection after the agreed concession period (24 years).

"It means the private company will collect tolls not only from vehicles getting on the flyover but also from those that will be moving under it," a DCC official said while terming the project 'anti-people'.

"Belhasha will invest 710 crore Taka while they will earn more than five thousands crore Taka from tolls collected over 24 years. It will become a serious burden for the citizens," the official added.

Dhaka Mayor Sadek Hossain Khoka has told journalists that he expects the Prime Minister to inaugurate the project within April.

Khoka also tried to justify the toll system for the flyover. "Many countries in the world have toll collection system for flyovers, even in our neighbouring countries."

But flyovers in different Indian cities including Kolkata are part of their free regular communications infrastructure.

The flyover is expected to solve the unbearable traffic situation in Jatrabari but commuters have to pay a price for that. PHOTO: STAR