Mega dreams on the verge of reality

Padma Bridge to open in June, Metro Rail to begin partial operations in December

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Bangladesh is set for a landmark year in 2022, with multiple mega projects on the verge of becoming reality.

The much-anticipated Padma Multipurpose Bridge is set to open for traffic in June, while the metro rail will partially open between Uttara and Agargaon on December 16.

Construction of the Bangabandhu Tunnel under the Karnaphuli River is progressing in full swing, and it is also expected to open by the end of 2022. A part of the Dhaka Elevated Expressway, from Dhaka airport to Tejgaon, is also likely open for traffic at the end of the year.   

According to the latest plan, the test–run of Rampal power plant project will start in January 2022 and commercial operation in June.

All these are fast-tracked projects of the government taken in the last two terms of the Awami League government.  

Awami League General Secretary and Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader recently told reporters that the much-awaited Padma Bridge would be inaugurated in June 2022 as per the target. 

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her sister Sheikh Rehana yesterday visited the Padma Bridge to witness the progress of the country's largest infrastructure project.

Padma Bridge to open in June

The long-awaited 6.15km Padma Multipurpose Bridge, a lifelong dream for the southern districts of the country, is set to open on June 30.

According to the Bridge Division, more than 89% of the total construction work has been completed, including 95.25% of the construction work of the main bridge and 86% of river training work.

Padma bridge will be the longest bridge in the country, connecting the capital Dhaka with 21 southern districts through road and railways. The project cost rose to Tk30,193 crore after several revisions.

Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader said: “Now, the pitch-casting work is going on. Once it’s done, the entire project work will be over.”

The government also wished to open a part of Padma Rail Link Project between Mawa and Faridpur’s Bhanga, but the project will not be completed in time for the opening of the Padma Bridge, Railway Minister Nurul Islam Sujan said. 

However, the Chittagong-Cox’s Bazar Rail Link, another fast-track project under the Railway Ministry, will open by the end of 2022, he added.

Metro rail now a reality

The long-desired metro rail will begin commercial operation on December 16, 2022, as a performance test on the viaduct has been continuing since August.

“We hope that the much-awaited metro train service will be opened from Uttara to Agargaon by December 16 next year," Managing Director of Dhaka Mass Transit Company Limited (DMTCL) MAN Siddique said.

He told Dhaka Tribune that the metro rail is expected start commercial operation on the entire route in December 2023.

According to project details, the 21.26-kilometre metro-rail project is being constructed in eight packages. The overall progress of construction work from Uttara to Motijheel-Kamalapur Railway stands at 72.99%, while 89.88% of civil work between Uttara and Agargaon has been completed.

Construction of Karnaphuli Tunnel gains momentum

Construction of the Karnaphuli Tunnel, the first underwater road network in South-Asia, gained momentum in 2021 after most of the foreign engineers and officials returned to duty in Chittagong.

The main tunnel’s length is 3.5km, of which 2.5km is under the Karnaphuli River. Boring work for the 2.5km has already been completed and the installation of the tubes is underway at a cost of Tk84.46 billion.

Project Director Harun-or-Rashid told Dhaka Tribune 76% work of the Bangabandhu Karnaphuli Tunnel project has already been completed.

“We expect to complete the construction work by next year, if the new web of Covid does not interrupt us,” he added.

Regarding the inauguration of Karnaphuli Tunnel in 2022, Obaidul Quader said: “We are working to open the Bangabandhu Tunnel next year. You will be informed about the time, however, our target is to open the project in 2022.”

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the excavation of the tunnel under the Karnaphuli River on February 24, 2019.

Dhaka Elevated Expressway  

The Bridge Division has decided to open a portion of Dhaka Elevated Expressway from Dhaka Airport to Tejgaon for traffic in December 2022.

“More than 70% of construction work has been completed between Dhaka Airport and Tejgaon,” said Project Director AHMS Akhter.

Once completed fully, the 19.73km expressway stretching from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka to Kutubkhali on the Dhaka-Chittagong highway is expected to help people cross Dhaka without facing the huge traffic congestion in the city. 

The cost of the project is Tk13,825 crore.

The whole project will be completed by June 2023, the project director said while visiting its construction site in the capital's Banani.

The expressway construction was inaugurated by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in April 2011 and it was supposed to be completed in mid-2014.

Rampal Power Plant

The Rampal power plant, also known as Maitree Super Thermal Power Project, has two units, each with 660MW production capacity. It is situated 14km north of the world's largest mangrove forest, the Sundarbans, and is being constructed on over 1834 acres of land.

According to the Bangladesh India Friendship Power Company Ltd, around 86% of the construction work of the first unit of the Rampal coal power plant has been completed and the total progress of the project, including the second unit, is around 70%.

According to the plan, a test–run of the plant will start in January 2022 and commercial operation in June.

Bus Rapid Transit and franchising

Along with the mega projects, authorities have also given priority to two other initiatives: the bus route franchising and Bus Rapid Transit system.

Franchise bus operation has already started on a trial basis between Ghatarchar and Kanchpur and the authority concerned is optimistic on opening the Dhaka BRT within December 2022.

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