Bangladesh, a densely populated country with an estimated population of 978 persons/sq km, has an extensive and diversified transport system comprising 1,03,536 km roads (20,948 km highways and 82,588 km rural roads), 2834 route km railways, 24,000 km inland waterways, 2 seaports, maritime shipping, and civil aviation etc.. Of multiple modes of transportation the road transport by an order of magnitude in carriage of goods and passengers has apparently been playing the most dominant role.
While there have been advances and improvements in this sector, development is going on at slow pace. There are critical physical and nonphysical barriers to passenger and freight flows, and the continuing low productivity of state-run transport services. Deficiencies like poor maintenance of infrastructure, inadequate integration of multimodal opportunities, non-inclusive transport and emission policy, capacity constraints of ports, and lack of strategic international transit connectivity, presence of mixed traffic in the arterial city roads, lack of proper enforcement of traffic safety regulations, congestion and overloading as well as pollution etc. have limited the ability of the system to respond to user needs. Investment, particularly in asset preservation has been low due to resource constraint.
The Roads and Highways Department (RHD) is a lead infrastructure network development agency already established a corridor based road network all over the country. In RHD’s jurisdiction there has been a total 17,546 km paved road of different category, 4507 no. of bridges with a total length of about 130 km and 13751 no of culverts with a length of 54 km. RHD is also responsible for the operation and maintenance of an extensive ferry system which are being gradually replaced with bridges.
The Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) since preparation of rural development strategy in 1985, has been developing the farm to market roads and has made significant progress in the sector. It has so far constructed total 82,588 km of rural roads and 8,04,635 metre bridges/culverts in the rural areas.
Before 1998, the country was separated into two parts by the mighty river Jamuna. After construction of a 4.80 km long Bangubhandu bridge in 1998 with the assistance of ADB, WB and JICA, the transport sector as well as economy of the country got new dimension and added momentum further. After construction of the Bridge tremendous traffic has been witnessed which was not imagined before its construction.
Bangladesh represents a vehicle fleet of 1.2 million motorized vehicles of different categories with 0.8 million motor driver with legal driving licenses as of 2009. Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) is dedicated to regulatory functions like registration and fitness certification of vehicles under existing relevant laws. With the increase of road network and vehicle fleets road safety is a growing concern of the society. Each year officially approximately 3000 persons are being killed and many more sustain disabling injuries. In economic terms, road accident is costing the community in the order of Tk. 5000 crore (US$850) which is nearly 2% of GDP.
Bangladesh Railway (BR), a state-run transportation agency of the country, has 2835.04 route Km rail line with 440 nos. stations, 286 nos. locomotives, 1503 nos. coaches and 10226 nos. wagons. Railway connected almost all important places of 44 civil districts and plays important role in the economy. It operates 261 passenger trains (Intercity 68, Mail & Express 66, Local 127) and 55 goods trains including container trains daily on an average. Besides, it operates the largest Inland Container Depot with capacity of 90,000 TEUs.