One-third of Mawa-Bhanga segment construction remains, section scheduled to open in June next year
The government is racing to finish work on the Mawa-Bhanga segment of the Padma Bridge Rail Link Project (PBRLP), as the section is scheduled to open for traffic in June next year.
Following a visit to a construction site of the project in Mawa on Tuesday, Railways Minister Nurul Islam Sujan said 66% of the work on the 14km Mawa-Bhanga segment had been completed, while the progress of the full 168km rail link stands at 41%.
“The government plans to open the Padma Multipurpose Bridge by June 2022 and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will inaugurate the rail service on the bridge between Mawa and Bhanga in Faridpur at that time. It will be challenging, but we are hopeful that we will be able to complete the Mawa-Bhanga part of the rail link project in time,” the railways minister added.
Bangladesh Railway, under the Railways Ministry, began work on the Padma Bridge Rail Link Project in January 2016. Once completed, the new rail link will shorten the current travel distance between Dhaka, Jessore and Khulna by 308km.
In early December last year, the design of the rail link project had to be altered after some flaws in the design were detected. According to the Bridges Division, the height of the rail line was set at 4.8m and 5.2m at Mawa and Janjira, respectively, instead of the standard height of 5.7m. Furthermore, the width of the rail link was shown as 9.5m at Janjira and 10m at Mawa, instead of the standard 15.5m.
During a recent visit to the project site in Mawa, this correspondent found work proceeding at full steam. All the workers appeared to be following health guidelines, and heavy machinery was being used to set up viaducts and rail lines.
Engineers from the construction firm China Railway Group Limited (CREC) were supervising the construction and placement of girders.
CREC Project Director Wang Kun said segmental girder erection work for viaduct-2 of the PBRLP had been completed 51 days ahead of schedule.
“Within a few weeks, except for the span that has been affected by the Padma Multipurpose Bridge Project, viaduct-3 will also be completed,” he added.
Railways Minister Md Nurul Islam Sujan said: “The work on the station buildings at Mawa, Bhanga, Shibchar and Janjira is progressing. Out of these, Bhanga will be a junction station and connect 4 destinations through the rail line. We will turn it into an iconic station by making some changes to the existing plan.”
The minister also thanked CREC, the construction partner, for its sincerity and dedication to the project.
“We are satisfied with the progress they have made despite the pandemic, and today I am handing over an appreciation letter to them from the Railway Ministry,” Sujan added.
Wang Kun said: “As an eternal pioneer, CREC has been through many hardships, including a one-and-a-half-year delay caused due to land acquisition, design approval and delayed measurement and payment in the initial stage of the project, combined with the pandemic and 70-year floods in 2020. We will persevere.”
As a fast-track project under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the biggest infrastructure project under the construction of the Bangladesh government, the project is being funded by preferential loans from Exim Bank of China.
The work on the full rail link is scheduled to be completed by June 2024. The project, which will cost at least Tk39,246 crore, is being constructed in four segments: Dhaka-Gandaria, Gandaria-Mawa, Mawa-Bhanga Junction and Bhanga Junction-Jessore.
Recently, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader said overall progress in the Padma Bridge project had crossed 85%, and 94% of the work on the main bridge had been completed.