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Where the roads lead

  • Published at 11:27 pm August 24th, 2020
Where the roads lead

The average price of land in Badda in 1990, prior to the construction of its main road, was about Tk2 lakh per katha

The value of a road is always more than what it seems. We often hear the “need” for a particular road — how it makes transportation and communication easier as well as how much money and time it might save in the future. As a result, there is a universal appreciation for the presence of roads. Yet, the true value is highly uncommunicated. That is because a road might easily surpass its intended objective and become so much more. A stretch of road might become the driving force for the development of business hubs and communities — and the history of human civilization is full of such instances.

Roads had been instrumental in helping Rome become the centre of the world, and roads help today's cities become more valuable and important. Just as the first cities formed around rivers and deltas, modern cities thrive and communities grow around the presence of well-formed roads. Once, the bounds of Dhaka city were limited to the Paltan area with Rajarbagh and Malibagh being the outskirts of the city. Even the posh Gulshan area was nothing more than a suburb.But as the city planned to expand all the way to Uttara, they created a massive stretch of road that would connect to the Airport road, which is known today as the Pragati Sarani road.

The creation of the Pragati Sarani road, which connects to the DIT road on the south and extends it, was a massive catalyst for urban development in that region. Prior to the formal establishment of the road, most of the surrounding area, chiefly Badda, Bhatara, Joar Sahara and Kuril, was significantly underdeveloped — even though the development of nearby Gulshan and Baridhara area was rapidly progressing. Back then, places such as Banasree and Aftabnagar were filled with paddy fields and similar things. It used to be easier to spot animals grazing than to spot multi-storied buildings in most parts of Badda.

Fortunes quickly turned for those areas when real estate demand, as well as prices, began to rise with the development of the road. According to REHAB, the average price of land in Badda in 1990, prior to the construction of its main road, was about Tk2 lakh per katha. Fast forward 10 years, and we see a work in progress of Badda’s urban overhaul with land prices around Tk6 lakh. Another 10 years later, it was Tk30 lakh. Every area around the mighty road prospered throughout the years due to its presence. Bashundhara Residential Area, in particular, greatly benefitted from the construction of this long stretch of asphalt road which connected the now popular residential area to the majority of the city.

In general, road-adjacent real estate, especially next to major roads, tend to see a more rapid rise in prominence, demand and value. People always clamour for “prime real estate” and road-side homes are always priced higher than those along inner roads. Modern real estate projects always emphasize adjacent “XX feet roads” and how near they are to other major roads of the area. Road adjacency is a great selling point and, oftentimes, buyers are ready to compromise for the sake of greater communication. People know that roads are signs of what to expect, which is development and progress, and they are ready to invest.

That is why we have so many people investing in “developing” areas. Roads are the groundwork for the future, and a number of infrastructural items will follow suit. This is the great attractor. People begin to settle down in those areas, alongside the major road and then move inwards. During this move, smaller inner roads are created which allows better and quicker communication to the main road. And it is why not every path of land beside a major road is primed for further urbanization. As a result, clusters are formed where all sort of other things necessary for communal living can be formed.

Roads have been instrumental for the development of civilizations and continues to be so today.Modern cities rely on their presence to not only ensure the needs of citizens are met but also that growth is properly achieved. That is why, even a small stretch of road can have a profound and unprecedented effect on a place. And as people are drawn to settling nearer roads, form hubs and communities, urbanization progresses and cities develop.