Dhaka Courier

Highways in Bangladesh: Seen beyond the expert Eye

Bangladesh is a riverine country. Waterways were the only mode of communication about hundred and fifty years back. Though, small numbers of recognized roads were there. Among those recognized roads we can refer only the famous Grand-Trunk road built by Emperor Shershah of Delhi. Other than some village tracks there was no recognized road existed in this part of the undivided Bengal now Bangladesh. In the 2nd half of 19th century British colonial masters introduced railways in the then Bengal presidency and at the same time some District Board roads were constructed by the then authority. But up to the late fifties of the of the 20th century waterways was one of the prime modes of communication and transportation in this part of South Asian sub-continent. In the late 19th century and first half of 20th century new railway lines and roads were constructed in this area and during the sixties of last century road communication got momentum and the people and government gradually shifted to roads and railways other than the waterways across the whole country. Though, waterways are still one of the prime modes of communication and transportation in our country.

In today’s Bangladesh we know roads are the largest ways of people’s transport and goods’ transport. However, it is true that railways and waterways are still functioning as major transport modes in Bangladesh. By and Large, at present all the district headquarters and other important cities and towns are now connected by national and regional highways. Presently, conditions of all the highways and roads are not even. We know there are some uneven roads and highways in different places across the country. The current population of Bangladesh is about 170 million. Within 10 to 15 years few corers of people will be added with the present number of population. It can be easily understood that the existing roads and highways might not cope with the added population. Moreover, the mobility of the people will be increased manifold. Notwithstanding, we know that the railways and waterways will also take the challenges of the extra pressures & mobility of the people in near future. But for the smooth and comfortable journey and carrying goods one place to another place we can think of the construction of some new highways and roads in Bangladesh. The proposed roads and highways are as follows:

     a.Bagerhat – Narail – Magura – Shailkupa – Kumarkahali;

b.Sahthkhira – Navaran – Chougacha – Chuadunga – Meherpur – Pragpur – Bheramara;

c.Pirosepur – Gopalganj – Baliakandi – Rajbari;

d.Manikganj – Tangail – Jamalpur - Sherpur;

e.Shariatpur – Chandpur – Laksham – Chouddagram;

f.Khagrachari – Rangamati – Bandarban;

We know there is a highway connecting Khulna to Kushtia via Jashore and Jhenidha. But this highway might not fulfill the requirements of the people in future. Within 15 to 20 years the mobility of the people and trade between India and Bangladesh will increase manifold for rapid industrial, agricultural and service sectors development in Bangladesh. So to meet up this demand these two new highways should be constructed between Khulna and Kushtia. One is to be started from Bagerhat to Narail, Magura, Sailkupa and Kumarkahali. And another one is to start from Shatkhira to Navaran, Chougacha, Kotchandpur, Chuadunga, Meherpur, Pragpur and Bheramara. These two highways already exist but there are some missing links. So the authority has to link up the missing points by constructing or refurbishing existing roads.

In the northern areas of Bangladesh, currently two main highways are functioning. These two are as (1) Jamuna Bridge to Bogura, Rangpur, Dinajpur, Thakurgaon, Panchagarh and Banglabandha (2) Jamuna Bridge to Natore, Rajshahi and Chapainawabganj. Out of these two there exist other districts connecting roads & regional highways. But we can think an alternative highway starting from Nagarbari to Kurigram via Sirajgang, Eastern part of Bogura, Gaibandha and Kurigram. For the national security and touristic point of view this proposed highway carries importance. Like Bagerhat to Kumarkhali and Shatkhira to Bheramara this proposed highways has also some missing links. The authority should link up those missing points and declare it as an alternative highway in northern area of Bangladesh. Another proposed highway can be constructed linking Pirosepur to Gopalganj, Baliakandi and Rajbari and after crossing the river Padma from Manikganj to Tangail. Already there are roads linking those districts but there still exists some missing links. So we should link up these areas by constructing standard roads and after that it should be declared as national highway.

The road between Takerhat to Madaripur, Shariatpur, Chandpur (crossing the river Meghna) and Laksham can be declared as important national highway. Already roads are there but repairing and refurbishing work are needed with smooth and dependable ferry service across the river Meghna connecting Chandpur. Out of these proposed highways there are some other important roads and those can be declared as important highways after repairing and refurbishing work. In this respect we can refer roads between Hili, Govindaganj, Gaibandha and western bank of the mighty river Jamuna. Roads between Khagrachari, Rangamati and Bandarban can also be declared as national highways.

Constructing and repairing highways the authority should also consider other utility services which are very much related to smooth and hassle free travel. In this case private sectors should also come up as catalyst agent. They can construct standard inns, restaurants, first aid centers on the road side. Government can also establish civil defense and fire service units in every 80 km of national highways primarily dedicated to face the challenges of accidental hazards and emergencies. Government and Policy makers of our country should also think over the road communication between Netrokona and Sunamganj. We know this is Haor area and it is very difficult to maintain sustainable road communication between these two districts. But with the help of advanced technology and strong will we can make all weather road there successful.

In sum, we can say that government and private sectors should transform our existing highways as international standard and at the same time the idea of construction of new highways should be taken so that Bangladesh can face the future challenges in the road communication sector in the days to come. At the same time the other three sectors such as railways, waterways and airways should get equal importance to improve our communication and transport sectors in Bangladesh. Because we know that only one sector cannot be the driving force of mode of communication in Bangladesh. Adjustment is needed between roads, railways, waterways and airways.

  • 19th Century British Colonial
  • Emperor Shershah of Delhi
  • Riverine Country

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