PM Hasina: Metro rail a unique milestone for Dhaka

Awami League plans massive show to celebrate partial opening of Bangladesh’s first electric train service

After completing the giant Padma Bridge and the Bangabandhu tunnel this year, the government will now inaugurate a part of Bangladesh's first-ever elevated metro rail on Wednesday as another feather in its cap.

The Awami League has taken detailed preparations to make this historic moment memorable with the presence of a vast crowd along the streets from Diabari to Agargaon.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is set to open the Uttara-Agargaon part during a colourful ceremony at Diabari of Uttara this morning. Later, she will buy a ticket and travel to the Agargaon station.

The eco-friendly electric train service will ease the time and harassment of passengers travelling on this route.

Also Read: How to buy a metro rail ticket       The dos and don'ts while riding metro rail

Initially, the Dhaka Mass Rapid Transit Limited (DMTCL) authorities will operate fewer non-stop trains for four hours from 8am. The speed of the trains will also be lower than usual and will wait for a bit longer during the testing period till March 26.

The trains will leave Uttara station, stop at Pallabi, and then go to Agargaon without stopping. 

In the first phase, the fare from Uttara station to Agargaon station will be Tk60. The fare from Uttara (North) to Uttara (Central) and Uttara-South Station will be Tk20.

As the government is starting the operation on a limited scale, it will take 20 minutes to travel the 11.73Km distance from Uttara to Agargaon.

Hundreds of thousands of ruling party leaders, activists and general people are ready to welcome Sheikh Hasina, the Awami League president and the country's longest-serving premier.

Party sources said leaders and activists of all the ruling Awami League's associate bodies will join the inauguration ceremony at Diabari.

A meeting was held at the AL president's Dhanmondi office last night where party's General Secretary Oabaidul Quader was present, among others, to finalize the preparations.

After the meeting, this correspondent talked with several leaders. They expect a huge crowd to the train's formal operation as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will be the first passenger of the service, according to Sheikh Bazlur Rahman, president of AL's Dhaka North unit.

“Though we are focusing on the Diabari station, from where the train will start, I think people will be there on the streets from Diabari to Agargaon point,” he told Dhaka Tribune.

Habib Hasan, lawmaker from Dhaka-18 constituency, said: “The celebration has already started in my area. The whole of Uttara and Dhaka city inhabitants are eagerly waiting for this moment.”

He said they were working to organize a gathering of some 100,000 people at the Diabari point to welcome the premier “for her outstanding achievement of launching metro rail in Bangladesh”.

President, PM greet nation

President M Abdul Hamid and the prime minister on Tuesday greeted all who were involved in implementing the metro rail project. 

"I convey my sincere greetings to all those involved in the implementation of the (metro rail) project, including the Road Transport and Highways Division (RTHD). Another success of the people-friendly government will be achieved with the inauguration of the metro rail," he said in a message.

Lauding the government for introducing the metro rail, the president added that it is fast, safe, reliable, air-conditioned, time-saving, electric, environment-friendly and remotely controlled state-of-the-art public transport system. 

It will alleviate the traffic congestion in the densely-populated metropolis of Dhaka and its surrounding districts.

“Bangabandhu's worthy daughter and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is working tirelessly to fulfill the dreams of the Father of the Nation. Under her visionary and efficient leadership, the country is moving forward in the implementation of 'Vision 2041',” he said.

In her message, Sheikh Hasina said the metro rail was a symbol of Bangladesh's pride and aspiration, and a unique milestone in the city mass transport system. 

The inauguration of the country's first metro rail is a long-awaited dream of the people of Dhaka city.

She said following in the footsteps of the Father of the Nation, the Awami League-led government has been able to take the communication system to a higher level.

Sheikh Hasina said the slogan of the project, "Sobar Jonno Metrorail", was decided with a view to providing all necessary facilities for people with special needs as in the developed world.

She recalled that on July 1, 2016, seven Japanese consultants working on MRT Line-1 and MRT Line-5 projects sacrificed their lives in an unexpected tragedy at Gulshan Holey Artisan Restaurant.

"In their memory, we have installed a memorial at the Metrorail Exhibition and Information Center at Uttara Diabari here under a joint initiative of the Governments of Bangladesh and Japan, which will later be shifted to the New Bazar interline connecting station of MRT Line-1 and MRT Line-5 Northern Route," she continued.

"My sincere condolences to their family members and deep respect to those who sacrificed their lives," the premier said.