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Congested Dhaka to get $1.25 bln expressway

DHAKA, Jan 19, 2011 – Bangladesh agreed Wednesday to build a $1.25 billion elevated expressway to ease crippling congestion in its capital in a deal with an Italian-Thai joint venture firm.

The 26.5-kilometre (16-mile) road will connect Dhaka\’s northern suburbs with the city\’s south, transport ministry spokesman Abu Naser said.

Premchai Karnasuta, head of the Italian-Thai Development Company, and Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan, a senior Bangladesh government official, signed the deal.

"Italian-Thai won the contract in a competitive bidding. It will build the elevated expressway in 42 months at a cost of 8,703 crore taka ($1.25 billion) — 27 percent of which will be funded by the government," Naser told AFP.

The government has also announced plans to build six other flyovers, three of which are already under way, at a cost of more than 300 million dollars to connect with the new expressway.

A 2009 study found that traffic in Dhaka is at a standstill for an average of 7.5 hours a day due to the record number of cars hitting the city roads, and the new expressway is expected to alleviate the "operational disorder" on the roads, Naser said.

Dhaka\’s population of 13 million is forecast to double over the next 20 years and thanks to the country\’s eight consecutive years of about six percent growth, traffic conditions are expected to worsen.

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