The government is likely to start collecting tolls from vehicles using the country’s first expressway — Dhaka-Mawa-Bhanga Expressway — from July.
The Road Transport and Highways Division yesterday agreed to a toll rate proposed by a special committee, four participants of a meeting told The Daily Star.
As per the proposal, the toll for a medium truck (two axles) would be Tk 9.9 per kilometre. It means that a truck would have to pay at least Tk 544 for using the entire 55km expressway on top of the toll for using the Padma bridge when it is opened to public in June 2022.
The toll for a bus would be Tk 490 and for a car (sedan) Tk 136, as per the proposal. There would be four exits and entrances to the expressway and the toll would be according to the exit a vehicle takes.
The new rate is about half of what the Roads and Highways Department recommended earlier following the Toll Policy-2014.
“The rate was fixed for an interim period. The rate would be fixed again after the opening of the Padma bridge,” an official of the division told The Daily Star.
After the road transport and bridges minister approves the proposal, it would go to the finance ministry for the final approval, the official said, seeking anonymity.
The RHD is currently collecting tolls on the two-lane 50km Hatikumrul-Bonpara highway, 13.7km Chattogram Port Access Road, and a 74km stretch of Dhaka-Sylhet highway between Jagadishpur and Sherpur.
In September 2019, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in an Ecnec meeting instructed the authorities concerned to collect tolls from long-haul vehicles on the national highways.
The move got momentum after she inaugurated the 55km expressway in March last year.
Earlier, the authorities had decided to start collecting tolls on the expressway once the Padma bridge was opened to public. The authorities have not yet finalised the toll for the bridge.
After toll collection starts on the expressway, the authorities will gradually begin collecting tolls on the national highways that are at least dual-carriageways.
PROPOSED TOLL RATE
On January 3 this year, the RHD placed a proposal on the toll rate in a stakeholders’ meeting.
Although there is no mention of expressways in the Toll Policy-2014, the RHD considered it an “important highway”.
With three bridges and 55km of expressway, the base toll for a medium truck per km was proposed at Tk 20.18, meaning that the truck would have to pay Tk 1,110 for using the entire expressway.
But the participants of the stakeholders’ meeting observed that the toll was “very high”.
A 17-member committee was formed to finalise the toll rate. The committee, in its January 14 meeting, opined for fixing an interim toll rate until the Padma bridge was complete.
It also proposed fixing the toll rate of the expressway, considering it as a national highway (Tk 1.5 per km) as there was no mention of expressways in the toll policy.
At this time, toll is being collected at the three major bridges on the expressway without following the toll policy. A medium truck has to pay Tk 460 to cross the bridges.
The committee opined for collecting tolls from those at the existing rate and rest of the expressway under the toll policy.
Khondaker Enayet Ullah, secretary general of Bangladesh Road Transport Owners Association, also a committee member, said the decisions they had made earlier were discussed in yesterday’s meeting.
A decision was taken to start toll collection from July, Enayet told this paper.
He said they would decide later on bus fares on this route.
Mozammel Hoque Chowdhury, secretary general of Bangladesh Jatri Kalyan Samity, also a member of the committee, said the authorities should monitor so that transport operators cannot charge irrationally from passengers after the toll collection begins on the expressway.