The government has taken a move to increase toll rates of Bangabandhu Multipurpose Bridge by 38 to 42 per cent for boosting income from it, officials have said.
Besides, the bridges division has sought approval allowing movement of trailers of up to four excels with a toll of Tk 4,000 for the first time on the bridge.
But, a trailer with more than four excels would pay additional Tk 1,500 for per excel, said the officials quoting the proposals placed by the bridges division in this connection.
According to the proposals submitted to the ministry of finance in late February, cars and jeeps would pay Tk 700 from the current Tk 500 to use the bridge across the River Jamuna.
Buses with more than 62 seats will be charged Tk 1,250 from the current Tk 900.
Trucks weighing up to five tonne would pay Tk 1,200 up from Tk 850, trucks weighing between five tonne and eight tonne would pay Tk 1,550 up from Tk 1,100 and trucks weighing more than eight tonnes Tk 2,000 up from the current Tk 1,400.
Transportation costs of passengers and goods between Dhaka and more than a dozen northern districts would go up if the ministry of finance approves the proposals.
The government has already increased prices of natural gas, pushing up the living cost of people, and the hiked tolls, in approved, are feared to be last straw.
Bridges division secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam said income from the country’s main bridge should be increased to meet its growing maintenance cost.
Besides, the growing debt servicing liability to the donor agencies has to be maintained, he said.
The amount of debt servicing to the funding agencies like World Bank and the Asian Development Bank has risen to Tk 191.98 crore from previous Tk 150 crore over years.
The bridges division officials said the debt servicing would continue up to 2034.
The country spent $962 million or Tk 37.45 billion, as per the Dollar-Taka exchange rate during the 1990s, to construct the bridge earlier known as the Jamuna Multipurpose Bridge.
The ADB and the WB provided more than 45 per cent of the construction cost while the rest was funded by the government and donors like Japan.
A substantial portion of the total government funding was collected from levies imposed on people.
South Korean Hyundai Engineering and Construction Co Ltd built the 4.8 kilometre rail-cum-road bridge, having longevity of 100 years.
But cracks, detected in 2006, within 17 years of its commissioning, forced the government to spend more than Tk 500 crore in two phases for repairs.
The government in September 2011 had hiked the toll rates for the last time.
In 2011-12, income from the bridge stood at Tk 304 against the target of Tk 312 crore. In 2013-14, income from the bridge was Tk 323 crore and the income was Tk 349 crore in 2014-15.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Country