Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has inaugurated the construction of the first-ever Mass Rapid Transit (MRT), commonly known as metro rail, and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) projects in Dhaka.
The inauguration ceremony took place yesterday morning at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in Dhaka.
“The metro rail is being constructed to ease the hassle suffered by daily commuters, as well as to modernise the transport system in the capital,” the premier said in her inauguration speech.
The project will be constructed in two phases: in the first phase, the tracks between Uttara and Agargaon will be constructed and opened to public use in 2019. The second phase will see the construction of the tracks between Agargaon and Motijheel and is expected to be finished in 2020.
Once finished, around 60,000 people will be able to travel from Uttara to Motijheel on both sides by the metro rail on every trip, the prime minister said.
She also suggested revising the construction plan during the first phase and lay the tracks between Uttara and Farmgate instead of between Uttara and Agargaon, as it would benefit commuters more.
“A safe and modern public transportation is a prerequisite to all kinds of development,” she said. “The government has taken various measures to alleviate traffic jams in Dhaka, building flyovers and overpasses to ensure smooth vehicular movement.”
She further said initiatives had been undertaken to construct circular roads, rail and water ways around Dhaka city to combat traffic problems. “Once these plans are executed successfully, the sufferings of Dhaka commuters will be reduced significantly.”
Speaking of the ongoing road transport development projects, the prime minister said the construction of Dhaka-Chittagong and Dhaka-Mymensingh four-lane highways was complete and was likely to be opened for public use before Eid.
“The government is working not only to develop the internal connectivity, but also to connect Bangladesh to the global road network,” she said. “Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal – the BBIN countries – will be connected soon under a motor vehicle agreement.
“We have also signed an agreement on a road network connecting Bangladesh, India, Myanmar and China. The government has planned to build an international airport for better connectivity.
“Bangladesh will be central to these road networks, working as a bridge that connects the East and the West of the world.”
The ceremony was attended by Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader, Road Transport Secretary MAN Siddique, other government officials and advisers to the prime minister. Lawmakers, diplomats, heads of donor agencies and high civil and military officials were present on the occasion as well.
Metro rail is the third biggest infrastructure project undertaken by the government, right after the Padma Bridge and Padma Rail Rrack projects. The elevated railway promises to relieve the capital city’s growing traffic problems.
The metro rail project will be constructed under the supervision of Dhaka Mass Transit Company and is being funded jointly by Bangladesh government and Japan International Cooperative Agency (Jica). Jica is contributing Tk16,594.59 crore to the project, while the government is paying Tk5,390.48 crore.
When complete and in operation, metro rail stations – 16 between Uttara and Motijheel – will see a train come every 4 minutes, and it will take 38 minutes for a train to cover the distance between Motijheel and Uttara.
The BRT project is a dedicated bus lane which will be constructed between Dhaka and Gazipur on the existing six-lane highway. Once complete, 100 articulated buses will run on the BRT route.
The total cost of the project is estimated to be around Tk2,040 crore, Tk1,650 crore of which will jointly provided by the Asian Development Bank, French Development Agency, and Global Environmental Facility Fund. The rest will be provided by the government.