Biggest ever transport infrastructure projects for the capital city, with a collective cost of Tk93,799.98 crore
The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) has approved the construction of two more Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) lines, with the aim to implement the projects in the current fiscal year.
The projects – MRT 1 and MRT 5 lines – are estimated to collectively cost Tk93,799.98 crore, making them the biggest ever transport infrastructure projects in Dhaka.
Both the MRT lines, commonly known as Metro Rail, will have elevated and underground sections, according to the project documents.
Speaking to reporters in a post-meeting briefing, Planning Minister MA Mannan said the latest initiative of the government is aimed at building safe and sustainable transport infrastructure in and around Dhaka, with a view to easing the city’s traffic situation and ensure travel safety for commuters.
With an estimated length of 31.241km, the MRT 1 line will connect Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport and Kamalapur via Notun Bazar and Purbachal terminal (depot). This project is estimated to cost Tk52,561.43 crore and is scheduled to be completed in December 2026, according to the project documents.
The MRT 5 line, with an estimated length of 35km, will have 14 stations at different points of the city including its depot in Purbachal. This line will connect Hemayetpur in Savar with Vatara on the east side of the city. It is estimated to cost Tk41,238.55 crore and is scheduled to be complete by December 2028.
Of the total cost, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will provide Tk68,567.37 crore as a soft loan with a 30-year payback plan and a 10-year grace period. The government will finance the rest – Tk25,232.61 crore – to implement the two projects.
In its Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report for these two projects, JICA said the MRT lines will contribute largely to improve Dhaka's air quality.
It is reported that Dhaka residents have long been experiencing unhealthy air leading to various health hazards, as the capital city of Bangladesh is consistently ranked as one of the cities with the worst air in the world by the US-based Air Quality Index (AQI).
With the two new projects, the three MRT projects together will collectively cost Tk115,785.05 crore, which is the biggest investment in transport infrastructure in the country.
The first ever Metro Rail project in Dhaka, the MRT 6 line, which started in 2012, is still under construction and is scheduled to be open for public use by 2021 – nearly two and a half years ahead of schedule.
The MRT 6, which is designed to carry some 60,000 commuters per hour, will connect Uttara and Motijheel.
The cost of the MRT 6 project is estimated at Tk21,985.07 crore. Progress in the implementation of this project was recorded to be 30.05% as of September 2019.
Planning Minister Mannan said the MRT 6 project is expected to be open on December 16, 2021 to mark the celebration of the golden jubilee of Bangladesh’s victory in the Liberation War against Pakistan.
He said any attempt at misappropriation or wilful delay in implementing the two new projects would not be tolerated.
He also asked the media to follow up on the implementation of project phases and dig out irregularities, if any, to help the government to take action immediately.
The planning minister further said the prime minister was in favour of floating the shares of Dhaka Mass Transit Company Limited (DMTCL), the state-run company that owns the MRT lines, to the capital market after launching the Metro Rails’ commercial operation.
The DMTCL is implementing the construction work of the MRT lines and other associate infrastructures, and will also be in charge of their maintenance.
Other projects approved by Ecnec
Ecnec approved a number of projects in Tuesday’s meeting, according to the meeting minutes. They are: the construction of a four-lane highway from Begamganj to Sonapur on Feni-Noakhali highway at the cost of Tk1,485.38 crore by 2021; maintenance and widening of three district highways in Nilphamari costing Tk421.05 crore; renovation of Kishoreganj-Karimganj highway and construction of Choyna-Joshodol-Doddoshoto connecting road; development work in Dhaka South City Corporation costing Tk1,719.45 crore; construction of multi-storey staff dormitory for government employees in Paikpara, Mirpur, Dhaka at the cost of Tk1,088.46 crore; construction of a dormitory for judges in Azimpur, Dhaka at the cost of Tk129.41 crore; Muhuri irrigation management project worth Tk580.14 crore; and afforestation and construction of infrastructure for elimination of climate change impact in Sylhet at the cost of Tk70.04 crore.
During the meeting, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also directed all authorities concerned to take immediate initiatives to prevent mosquito breeding in and around Ganabhaban, the prime minister’s official residence, as well as all the government offices and dormitories.
She also directed the authorities to set up environment-friendly waste disposal system in all government buildings.
She said there would be no new gas connections to high-rise residential buildings as the government is implementing its policy to increase cylinder gas for domestic use.
The meeting stated that progress in the Annual Development Program (ADP) implementation was recorded at Tl17,344 crore in the first quarter of the current fiscal year – Tk2,417 crore higher than that in the corresponding quarter in the last fiscal year.