Boosting Connectivity in Bangladesh through the ‘Smart Highways’


Since achieving it Liberation, Bangladesh has confronted substantial connectivity challenges. Nevertheless, recent developments have reshaped the nation’s connectivity landscape, focusing on the expansion of highways and the integration of advanced smart connectivity. These innovations signify a transformative phase in Bangladeshi connectivity. In December 2023, Bangladesh anticipates the inauguration of its maiden smart highway along the Dhaka-Mawa Expressway. Additionally, plans are underway to launch a second smart highway, connecting Joydebpur with Rangpur, in December of the subsequent year. The primary objective of these initiatives is to bolster road safety.

The Dhaka-Mawa Expressway, spanning 38 kilometers, will mark the inception of smart highways, incorporating a comprehensive Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) set to be fully operational by December of this year as a pioneering project. The establishment of a well-interconnected transportation network remains a fundamental catalyst for the economic advancement of any nation. Moreover, contemporary connectivity possesses the capability to unite major stakeholders within a singular network. In terms of assistance and collaboration, the Dhaka-Mawa Expressway project is being realized through a partnership with South Korea’s KOICA, as part of a Tk126 crore plan.

Furthermore, the introduction of advanced technology on the 250-kilometer Joydebpur-Rangpur highway, scheduled for December 2024, is made possible with support from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), involving an investment of $15 million. This collaborative effort underscores Bangladesh’s commitment to fostering connectivity for the benefit of its citizens and the nation’s development.

Boosting Connectivity in Bangladesh

Boosting connectivity inside Bangladesh

Strategic Location: The significance of these two connectivity networks lies in their strategic locations. The Dhaka-Mawa Highway, for instance, serves as a crucial link between the Padma Bridge and 21 districts with Dhaka. Covering a span of 38 kilometers, this highway greatly facilitates transportation between Dhaka and the 21 connected districts.

Lifeline of the North: On the other hand, the Rangpur to Joydebpur Highway functions as the lifeline of Bangladesh’s entire northern and northwestern regions, particularly supporting the Bangabandhu Bridge across the Jamuna River. These two highways effectively cover the northwestern and southern parts of Bangladesh, regions that were once considered disconnected. By implementing these roadways, Bangladesh significantly enhances connectivity within the country.

Bridging Divides: Moreover, these two networks bridge the gap between the eastern and southern regions of Bangladesh with the north and south. In addition to improving regional connectivity, these highways connect the capital city, Dhaka, with two major bridges in the country. This comprehensive connectivity not only boosts economic trade but also enhances road safety, contributing to the overall development and prosperity of Bangladesh.

The Bigger Picture: Connecting the Region with smart connectivity.

The Joydebpur-Rangpur smart highway plays a crucial role in bolstering regional connectivity within the SASEC framework. By linking these two significant regions, it creates a seamless transportation corridor that facilitates the movement of goods, services, and people across borders. This enhanced connectivity not only benefits Bangladesh but also contributes to greater economic cooperation and development among neighboring South Asian countries.

Moreover, as a key component of the SASEC network, this smart highway promotes economic growth by improving the efficiency of trade and transportation. It reduces transit times, lowers organization costs, and eases the movement of goods, ultimately stimulating trade activities. This, in turn, can lead to increased economic opportunities and prosperity for the entire region.

Besides, the construction of the Joydebpur-Rangpur smart highway demonstrates a commitment to infrastructure development and integration among SASEC member countries. It signifies a collaborative effort to bridge the infrastructure gap and create a cohesive regional network that benefits all participating nations. This initiative not only fosters physical connectivity but also strengthens diplomatic and economic ties among South Asian nations, contributing to the larger goal of regional integration.

A Technological Leap Forward

In the pursuit of enhanced connectivity, both highways are undergoing transformative changes with the introduction of the Intelligent Transport System (ITS). This system encompasses a multitude of cutting-edge components, including vehicle detection systems, surveillance cameras, automated number plate recognition cameras, speed detection mechanisms, and variable messaging signs. These technological advancements are not merely symbolic but rather serve as a vital tool for bolstering road safety. They empower authorities to swiftly identify vehicles surpassing speed and weight limits, ensuring appropriate actions are taken. Additionally, it brings highway surveillance in alignment with the standards set by developed nations.

On the other hand, the Traffic Management Centre (TMC), strategically located at Paikpara in Mirpur, Dhaka, takes the helm in this endeavor. It will oversee the entire highway network through the integrated ITS system. Within this system, the “Vehicle Detective System (VDS)” takes center stage, swiftly identifying accidents and other road obstacles, facilitating prompt responses.

Moreover, surveillance cameras, strategically positioned along the highway, enable 24/7 monitoring by TMC personnel. Automated Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) Cameras play a crucial role in identifying vehicles flouting traffic regulations or exceeding load and speed limits. This technological marvel empowers authorities to detect speeding vehicles through the Speed Detection System. Furthermore, LED-enabled Variable Messaging Signs (VMS) will be installed on gantries along the highway, providing real-time information to commuters. Notably, a Weigh in Motion (WIM) system will be deployed at various points along the highway to prevent trucks from carrying loads exceeding permissible limits.

Facilitating International Collaboration: Bangladeshi Companies Demonstrating Their Expertise

The involvement of Bangladeshi companies such as National Development Engineers (NDE) and National Tech in these prestigious projects showcases their growing technological competence. These companies have demonstrated their ability to handle advanced technologies and complex infrastructure projects, furthering the country’s capacity to undertake high-tech endeavors. Also, partnering with international companies like Fiber Home Telecommunication Technologies Co Ltd reflects the willingness of Bangladeshi firms to collaborate on a global scale. This collaboration not only brings in valuable expertise but also strengthens diplomatic and economic ties between Bangladesh and its international partners.

Therefore, entrusting Bangladeshi companies with significant infrastructure projects like the Joydebpur-Rangpur smart highway and Dhaka-Mawa Expressway underscores the nation’s commitment to advancing its domestic capabilities. These projects not only contribute to the physical infrastructure but also boost the country’s image on the global stage, showcasing Bangladesh as a competent player in the high-tech infrastructure arena. This positions the nation for further growth and development in the future.

To summarize, Bangladesh has made remarkable strides in the realm of connectivity. By linking two distinct regions within its borders, it has inadvertently forged connections that extend beyond its borders, benefiting the entire region. This strategic achievement not only serves the interests of its own people but also contributes to a broader regional connectivity framework. The recent implementation of smart connectivity marks the inception of a technologically advanced era for Bangladesh, foreshadowing a future of smart development and progress in the years to come.

– S. M. Saifee Islam is a Research Associate at the KRF Center for Bangladesh and Global Affairs (CBGA).

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