Two new metro rail in Dhaka

ECNEC to approve Tk 93,800 crore project today

With rapid pace in construction of Bangladesh’s first metro rail route, another two such mega projects await government approval today aiming at bringing rapid and effective comfort to the city commuters. According to planning ministry sources, the executive committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) is likely to approve two mega projects of Dhaka Mass Rapid Transit Development —MRT-1 and MRT-5 at National Economic Council (NEC) conference room with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.

Sources said the government will start the construction of two projects - MRT-1 and MRT-5 for developing uninterrupted rail transportation system both in east-west and north-south directions in the capital. The project evaluation committee (PEC) of the planning commission has already approved the development project proposals (DPPs) of MRT-1 and MRT-5. The proposals will be placed before the government’s highest policy body today, a senior official of the ministry told Bangladesh Post.

The cost for these projects has been estimated at Tk 93,800 crore (Tk 938 billion), which will come from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Government of Bangladesh (GoB). Dhaka Mass Transit Company will implement the projects. Tk 68,567.32 crore will come from JICA and the rest of Tk 25,232.60 crore will come from GoB.

Sources said Dhaka is one of the densely populated cities in the world. The number of registered vehicles was 20,600 in 2001. In 2013, the number has increased 95,400. Vehicles transportation is very difficult due to the traffic congestion as the number of roads is not increased. In this regard, the government has approved Revised Strategic Transport Plan (RSTP) in August, 2016 to reduce traffic jam from the capital.

Under the RSTP, the government has planned to construct five MRT Lines while MRT-6 is under construction. The 31.24km MRT Line-1 will have two parts -- around 19.87km from Shahjalal International Airport to Kamalapur with 16.4km underground, and around 11.36km of elevated rail from Notun Bazar to Purbachal. The design of the underground rail has been prepared.

The first part of the project, 16.4km long, will be the airport route stretching from the terminal 3 of the airport to Kamalapur via Khilkhet, Jamuna Future Park, Notun Bazar, Badda, Hatirjheel, Rampura, Malibagh and Razarbagh. The second part will be the Purbachal route stretching from Notun Bazar to Purbachal Depot via Jamuna Future Park.

The project estimated cost for MRT-1 has been set at Tk 52,561.43 crore. JICA will give Tk 39,450.32 crore while Tk 13,111.11 crore will come from the government exchequer. The project will be completed from September 2019 to December 2026. On the other hand, the 20km MRT-5 route, namely northern route, would run on Hemayetpur-Baliarpur-Madhumati-Amin Bazzar-Gabtoli-Dar-us-Salam-Mirpur-1-Mirpur-10-Mirpur-14-Kochukhet-Banani-Gulshan-2-Notun Bazzar-Vatara route.

The total length of the corridor would be 19.60km with 13.60km underground and 6km elevated. The MRT-5 project estimated cost is of Tk 41,238.54 crore. JICA will give Tk 29,117.05 crore while Tk 12,121.49 crore will come from the government exchequer for the project aimed at completing from July 2019 to December 2028.

About 20km new metro rail route from Hemayetpur to Bhatara will have a 14km underground part, sources said adding that 14 stations will be constructed in the route. The interest rate of the JICA loan will be 0.95 percent payable in 30 years. Japan is also funding the country's first elevated metro rail, MRT Line-6, from Uttara to Motijheel.

The government wants to build all five metro lines -- one elevated, one underground, and three underground plus elevated -- in the capital and its adjacent areas by 2030 to ease traffic and reduce pollution - the two major problems that over 1.5 crore residents are facing.