As economy evolves, attention turns to ramping up rural infrastructure

The government plans to add some 5,550 kilometres to the rural roads network, alongside 31,000 metres of bridges/culvert extensions that help to make the roads more accessible while at the same time taking them into the heart of communities.


Another much anticipated initiative will see the expansion of the climate resilient core road network to the rural areas, making them well-placed to sustain increased commercial and economic activity as the country evolves to middle-income status.


Meanwhile work on maintaining the 13,500 kilometers of pitched roads and 3,800 metres of bridges/culverts that already exist in rural areas will be carried out starting from the 2020-21 fiscal.


In addition, the document said, a total of 195 growth centres/haat-bazars will be developed to increase agricultural and non-agricultural outputs by stimulating rural economy, creating job opportunities and influencing supply chains.


To strengthen the activities of local government, 65 upazila complex buildings together with 100 union parishad buildings will be constructed.


Besides, a further 140 cyclone shelters will be built in coastal areas.


“With the development of roads, the country’s road network coverage will increase from 35.75 percent to 36.75 percent,” the budget document said.


According to a senior official of the LGRD Ministry, rural roads are the main infrastructures for rural communities, based on which rural economy circulates, leading to gradual development of various amenities in rural lives in each village.


“Sustainable rural roads facilitate all other socio-economic benefits, such as access to education and health, employment, poverty alleviation, women development and business initiatives,” he said.


The official said that priority areas for rural roads at the moment are- upgrading existing busy rural roads into two lanes to make them suitable for rapidly expanding rural economy, sustainable maintenance of constructed road infrastructures, and making new road connections quickly in villages currently without roads.


In addition to these development works in rural areas, the budget document added that targets have been set to construct 830 kilometers roads and footpaths, 250 kilometres drains and 3,000 metres bridges/culverts in small and big cities.


“Following the implementation of all these infrastructural development works, direct employment amounting to12 crore man-hour, and a huge opportunity for indirect employment will be created,” the document reads.


The budget for 2020-21 fiscal has proposed Tk. 39,573 crore for the local government and rural development sector, up from the Tk. 37,886 crore in the outgoing fiscal year 2019-20.


The document mentioned that a commitment to increase rural road network coverage from 35 percent to 35.75 percent is on its way to being met fully.


ALready built


In the last eleven years from 2009 until February 2020 – i.e. the current AL-led regime’s unbroken spell at the country’s helm – a total of 62,149 kilometers of rural roads has been built. That covers the construction of over 93 percent of roads at upazila level, almost 80 percent of roads in unions and 20 percent of rural roads.


“The expansion of this rural road network is contributing to the rapid expansion of the rural economy,” it reads.


In addition, the government has built/rebuilt about 350,396 metres worth of bridges/culverts for improving the living standards of rural people in the last eleven years.


To rapidly spread development benefits to all corners of the country, it built some 20 bridges measuring over 500 metres each, to go with 480 that measure between 100-500 metres during the same period.


Ongoing infrastructure projects include 40 bridges of over 500 metres, and 220 more measuring between 100-500 metres.


In addition to rural infrastructures, 1,615 Union Parishad Complex buildings, 225 Upazila Complex/Extension buildings were constructed/ rebuilt, 2,287 growth centres and hat-bazars were developed, and 881 cyclone centers have been built in the last eleven years to make public services available for the rural people.


Source: United News of Bangladesh