Economic Watch: Belt and Road projects are fueling an infrastructure expansion in Bangladesh-Xinhua

Economic Watch: Belt and Road projects are fueling an infrastructure expansion in Bangladesh

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2023-10-03 16:48:15

A man takes photos of a train ready for a trial run along the newly-constructed mega Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) rail line via the China-built Bangladesh's largest Padma Bridge on the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh, Sept. 7, 2023. (Photo by Salim/Xinhua)

Chinese enterprises have built 12 roads and 21 bridges in Bangladesh, with several transportation projects underway or to be implemented soon, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs.

by Sun Nan

DHAKA, Oct. 3 (Xinhua) -- It used to take Rukhsana Parveen Khan 30 to 45 minutes to reach Bonani from the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka. Today, the journey is a mere five minutes. "This is excellent," she told Xinhua. "I use this road daily and will benefit greatly from it."

The road Khan mentioned is the First Dhaka Elevated Expressway, one of Bangladesh's flagship infrastructure projects, which opened partly to traffic on Sept. 3.

Bangladesh's capital and largest city, Dhaka, has a population of nearly 20 million. However, the inadequate road infrastructure has made traffic congestion frequent. "We have to struggle with huge traffic jams every day, so it's terrible for us," said Khan.

To solve this problem, the 19.73-km expressway project, with a total investment of 1.263 billion U.S. dollars, was launched on Jan. 1, 2020, under the guidance of the local government. China's Shandong Hi-Speed Group Company Ltd. is the project's leading investor and builder.

However, advancing the project was not easy. According to Zheng Xiaozhong, director of Shandong Hi-Speed International Bangladesh Company Limited, a section of the road crosses a railway line with trains passing every 15 minutes on average, leaving almost no time for construction.

To solve the issue, the contractor designed an "adjustable mobile door frame" using cast-in-place crossbeams. Thanks to the innovative construction technology, the project's first phase was officially open to traffic in September.

Speaking at the expressway's opening, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina called it "a new milestone in Bangladesh's city mass transport system," adding that it would play a significant role in developing communication between the capital and the rest of the country.

Bangladesh is the first South Asian country to join the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Since then, Bangladesh has made significant progress in Belt and Road cooperation with China, particularly in infrastructure construction.

The Padma Bridge Rail Link Project, which passes through Bangladesh's largest Chinese-built Padma Bridge, is one of the most significant projects under construction by China Railway Group Limited and funded by the Export-Import Bank of China.

The Bangladeshi government recently launched an experimental passenger train with Chinese-made coaches on a section of the newly constructed mega rail line.

This is a "historic moment," Bangladeshi lawmaker Saifuzzaman Shikhar told Xinhua, adding, "I'm crossing the Padma Bridge by train. It was a matter of our past dreams. But it is a reality today."

The first section of the railway link is about 80 km long and is expected to be launched in October. The entire 172-km project is scheduled for completion in 2024.

It will serve as a vital channel connecting Dhaka and more than 20 districts in the country's south and is expected to greatly promote regional connectivity and economic development.

Taking the train, Bangladeshi Railways Minister Nurul Islam Sujan expressed his hope that China will continue cooperating with Bangladesh.

People attend The Belt and Road Initiative in Bangladesh Exhibition 2023 in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Sept. 8, 2023. (Xinhua)

As an old Chinese proverb goes, "It's better to teach a man how to fish than to give him fish." While improving road traffic, BRI projects in Bangladesh have trained many professionals, including designers and engineers.

The runway extension project of Bangladesh's Cox's Bazar Airport, built by two Chinese companies, is Bangladesh's first maritime airport runway expansion project. It will upgrade the domestic airport into the country's fourth international airport upon completion.

Project coordinator Musharraf Hussain said, "Working on such a significant project, I learned a lot of technical expertise and management experience that I had not encountered before."

"It was a great experience for me and will be a key part of my career," he added.

Hussain's story is an example of those inspired by the BRI. Chinese enterprises have shared their own development experience and achievements with their Bangladeshi counterparts to help the country tap its development potential.

These projects mentioned above epitomize BRI cooperation between China and Bangladesh in transportation and cultivating talent in the South Asian country.

Until now, Chinese enterprises have built 12 roads and 21 bridges in Bangladesh, with several transportation projects underway or to be implemented soon, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Infrastructure, the bedrock of connectivity, is a priority area of Belt and Road cooperation. Prime Minister Hasina recently said that Belt and Road cooperation has opened a new development door for Bangladesh.


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