Finance Minister AHM Mostafa Kamal today proposed Taka 87,629 crore for the communication sector, including roads, bridges, railways, sea routes, and airways, in the budget for fiscal year (FY) 2023-24.
The sector got Taka 6,110 crore more compared to the last fiscal as the total allocation for the communication sector was Taka 81,519 crore in the FY2022-23.
In his budget speech, the finance minister said, "Our primary objective is to establish a domestic and international communication network which is secure, sustainable, environment-friendly and economical. We are committed to ensure timely completion of the ongoing projects and their subsequent maintenance after implementation".
Highlighting the government endeavors since 2009 in enhancing transportation infrastructure throughout the country, Kamal said "We have undertaken the task of upgrading of 718 km of national highways to accommodate four or more lanes, while we are also constructing or reconstructing 1,558 bridges and 7,498 culverts across different highways".
The government has integrated fifteen railway overpasses and eighteen flyovers with the national road network, he said, adding, the country's road communication system has entered into the new era of expressways with the construction of the 'Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Highway' from Jatrabari intersection to Bhanga in Faridpur via Mawa.
Furthermore, recognizing the need for continuous improvement, the minister said, "We have taken up plans to upgrade 2,342 km of national highways to four lanes, including the service lanes on both sides".
"One remarkable achievement that has garnered global attention is the construction of the Padma Bridge, an impressive 6.15-kilometre-long structure that stands as a testimony to our nation's capabilities. This monumental project, funded entirely by our resources, has not only reinforced our confidence but also significantly improved economic and social mobility by facilitating seamless connectivity between the southern region and other parts of the country," he added.
Noting that construction of the Bangabandhu tunnel under the Karnaphuli River is nearing completion and is set to open for traffic soon, Kamal said furthermore, construction of the Dhaka Elevated Expressway, stretching over 46.73 km from HazratShahjalal International Airport to Qutubkhali on the Dhaka-Chittagong highway, is expected to be completed by June 2024.
This expressway will be partially opened from HazratShahjalal International Airport to Tejgaon by September this year, he said, adding, besides, construction of a 20 km long lane Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) from Shahjalal International airport to Gazipur is currently underway, and construction of the Dhaka-Ashulia Elevated Expressway has also commenced.
Once implemented, the minister said, these initiatives will greatly enhance connectivity, allowing for easier and congestion-free travel between Dhaka and 30 districts while also improving accessibility to the Asian Highway Network and nearly all national highways.
Mentioning that a comprehensive metro rail network comprising six lines is currently under construction in Dhaka metropolis and its surrounding areas, he said, "The honorable Prime Minister inaugurated the first section of Bangladesh's metro rail, running from Uttara to Agargaon, on December 28, 2022. There is a plan to expand the Metrorail network to Kamalapur by 2025".
Construction of the 19.872 km long underground section from Kamalapur to Airport and construction of the 11.369 km over ground section from Notun Bazar to Pitalganj Depot have started, the minister said, adding that these sections are scheduled to become operational by 2026.
About railways, he said, "We are working for the development of railway as a cost-effective and safe mode of transportation for both passengers and goods".
Implementation of some more important projects is in progress to further enhance the railway infrastructure, he said, adding these projects included the Padma Bridge Rail Link Project, construction of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Railway Bridge over the Jamuna River, and establishment of dual gauge tracks from Dohazari to Ramu, extending to Cox's Bazar, as well as from Ramu to Gundum near Myanmar.
Under the comprehensive 'Railway Master Plan' spanning 30 years, Kamal said, the government has been implementing multifaceted programmes to foster the growth and development of the railway sector.
About waterways and ports, he said approximately 95 percent of the country's import-export trade is dependent on seaports.
Since, the land ports and the river ports play a vital role in transportation of passengers as well as goods, the minister said, "Therefore, we have given special emphasis on the development and management of sea, river, and land ports right from the outset".
About airways, he said, "We have made significant strides in expanding our air fleet and undertaking airport development projects aimed at modernizing and upgrading our air transport system and related services to meet the global standards".
Kamal said the third terminal of HazratShahjalal International Airport is expected to open in October this year.