Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday said the opening of Dhaka Elevated Expressway is another milestone in the country's communication sector and it would play a significant role in reducing traffic congestion.
"This (Dhaka Elevated Expressway) is a new milestone in the communication sector. I have inaugurated Dhaka Elevated Expressway PPP Project's Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport to Farmgate portion. Work on its remaining portion will be completed soon," she told a rally at the Old Trade Fair Ground at Agargaon after the formal inaugural.
The Prime Minister said she has given the expressway as a gift to residents of Dhaka and the people across the country, adding that it would play a great role in developing communication between the capital and the rest of the country.
"The long standing expectation of the residents of Dhaka has been fulfilled with the opening of the expressway. The expressway will play a great role in reducing traffic jams significantly," she said.
Dhaka north and south localities that included Shahjalal International Airport, Kuril, Mohakhali, Tejgaon, Farmgate, Moghbazar and Kamlapur will witness huge progress in reducing traffic gridlock, she opined.
The Prime Minister extended her heartfelt thanks to all concerned involved in building the Dhaka Elevated Expressway.
She inaugurated the much-awaited Dhaka Elevated Expressway's Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport-Farmgate section for traffic by unveiling the inaugural plaque at the Old Trade Fair Ground at Sher-e-Bangla Nagar on Saturday afternoon.
PM's younger sister Sheikh Rehana was present on the occasion.
A munajat was later offered seeking divine blessings for the welfare of the country and its people.
Road Transport and Bridges Minister and Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader, MP, and Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan, MP, spoke on the occasion.
Dhaka South and North City Corporations Mayor Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh and Atiqul Islam, lawmaker from Dhaka-17 constituency Mohammad A Arafat and Road Transport and Bridges Affairs Ministry's parliamentary standing committee Chairman Rawshan Ara Mannan were present on the dais while Secretary of the Bridges Division Md. Monjur Hossain gave the address of welcome.
Sheikh Hasina earlier unveiled the nameplate of the expressway at Kawla end of the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport here. A munajat was later offered.
The Prime Minister was the first person who paid toll on the expressway after driving through it to and off Farmgate.
The Road Transport and Bridges Minister received Sheikh Hasina and her younger sister Sheikh Rehana with flower bouquets on their arrival at the Kawla and Old Trade Fair Ground at Sher-e-Bangla Nagar ends. After the inauguration, the colorful balloons were released at the Kawla site.
After opening the expressway at Kawla end, the premier departed for the Old Trade Fair Ground at Sher-e-Bangla Nagar to attend a civic rally marking the grand opening of the Dhaka Elevated Expressway in the afternoon.
The Airport-Farmgate section will be opened to traffic on Sunday, the next day of the formal inauguration, officials said.
The length of this section is about 11.5 km. The total length of the elevated expressway is 46.73km covering Kawla, Kuril, Banani, Mohakhali, Tejgaon, Moghbazar, Kamalapur, Sayedabad, Jatrabari to Kutubkhali on the Dhaka-Chattogram highway.
There are 15 ramps for boarding. Out of these, two ramps at Banani and Mohakhali will remain closed for the time being. Initially, 13 out of 15 ramps in this part will be opened. The ramps at Banani and Mohakhali will be opened once their construction is complete.
Initially, the speed limit on the expressway will be 60km per hour and vehicles need 10 minutes to travel the 11km distance from the HSIA to Farmgate. Three wheelers, bicycles and pedestrians will not be allowed to move on the expressway, while motorbikes cannot run on it right now.
The total expenditure of the project is estimated at Taka 8,940 crore, while the viability gap funding is Taka 2,413 crore, which will be provided by the Bangladesh government.
Construction of the second phase Banani Railway Station to Moghbazar Railway Crossing is progressing fast.
Sheikh Hasina, also President of the Awami League, said they have already proved that it has been possible to change the fortune of the people by working for their welfare with dignity and confidence.
The Prime Minister vowed that Bangladesh will march towards prosperity confronting all the odds that include killing and arson terrorism alongside conquering every sort of fear such as the so-called movement to thwart the government and declaration of the USA visa policy for Bangladesh.
Pointing finger at the BNP, she said they are talking about movement for revival of democracy though the party was formed undemocratically which was declared illegal by the apex court.
She questioned: "How the party which was formed undemocratically can give democracy?"
The AL Chief said many people have become a little bit panicked seeing movement to dislodge the government and subsequent declaration of the US visa policy for Bangladesh.
"I want to clear one thing - the soil is ours and we made the country independent under the leadership of the Father of the Nation. So, it will bring no benefit to frighten us."
The Prime Minister asked her party leaders and activists and others concerned not to get frightened seeing clouds, saying, "Every cloud has a silver lining."
"The people of Bangladesh will march towards the journey of progress at indomitable pace conquering fear. The boat has always moved against the tide," she said.
She said that the boat, the electoral symbol of the Awami League, has made huge development of Bangladesh, brought the country's independence and economic emancipation, and transformed Bangladesh into a digital country.
"The boat has been working to turn the country into a poverty-and hunger-free "Smart Bangladesh" by 2041 with smart people, smart economy, smart government and smart society," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said the governments from 1975 (after assassination of Father of the Nation) to June, 1996 and from 2001-2006 in their 29 years in power did nothing for the welfare of the country and its people rather those governments made their own fortunes.
"They haven't given anything for the welfare of the people in 29 years. They only made their own fortunes," she said.
The Prime Minister said her government has been working untiringly to give them an improved and beautiful life after changing their fates as envisioned by Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Due to her government's relentless efforts since 2009 to till to date, she said the country has attained the status of the developing country and got its due honour on the global stage.
Briefly describing measures taken by her government for development of communication after assuming power for the first time in 1996 after 21 years, she said, they had built Rupsha Bridge, Bangabandhu Bridge over the Jamuna River, Meghna Bridge, Gabkhan Bridge, Shikarpur-Duarika Bridge and Dhorola Bridge.
They have also developed the rail, water and airways communications during that time, she continued.
After assuming power since 2009 to till 2023, she said the Awami League has made a massive development in the communication sector by constructing the Padma Bridge, Dhaka Metro Rail, Dhaka Elevated Expressway and Karnaphuli Tunnel.
She said they had built the Padma Bridge with their own finance and showed the world Bangladesh's capability to help achieve global acclamation.
The premier said they inaugurated 100 streets and highways and 100 bridges in a day, adding, "None had been able to do so."
She said her government has built four and six lane highways that included Dhaka-Chattogram Highway, Dhaka-Mymensingh Highway, and Dhaka-Mawa-Bhanga Highway.
The Prime Minister said the BNP government has only built 15,151 kilometres of roads and highways while the Awami League government has built 1,22,552 kilometres of roads and highways so far.