By Md. Kamruzzaman
DHAKA, Bangladesh (AA) – Bangladesh is set to complete its long-cherished and first-ever metro-rail project by December 2022 despite the alarming spike in coronavirus cases.
“Our finance minister has already said that we are determined to complete the project by December 2022 and I also like to assure if everything goes on normally, we can reach our target,” MAN Siddique, the managing director of the project, told Anadolu Agency.
He, however, said that around 12,000 people in total have been working in this mega project in different groups based on working procedures. “But due to the pandemic restrictions, we have to engage fewer workers in smaller groups currently.”
“In some cases, we need big groups of workers to be engaged at a time to complete some heavy works of the project timely. We are hopeful that after vaccinating all workforces engaged in the project, we can allow more people to work simultaneously,” he said.
Siddique added that a good number of workforces including both locals and foreigners have already been inoculated and the rest are under process on a priority basis.
To ease the traffic jam in the country’s most crowded city of Dhaka and make life comfortable for nearly 20 million inhabitants, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the construction work of the much-hyped project on June 26, 2016, with a target to complete the first phase of the project by 2024 and the whole project by 2030.
According to official data, under the first phase out of six, there will be a total of 144 coaches for train sets that will run on a 20.10-km (nearly 12.5-mile) route from Dhaka’s mid-northern Uttara to mid-southern Kamalapur railway station via Agargaon, Farmgate, Dhaka University campus, and business-hub Motijheel.
There will be a total of 17 stations, according to the official documents of the project entitled "MRT Line-6."
The total costs of the big project amount to around 220 billion Bangladeshi takas ($2.6 billion) of which the Japan International Cooperation Agency is providing $1.9 billion at a 0.01% interest rate, while the rest would come from internal sources.
The time-consuming fast metro line will carry 60,000 passengers in an hour running through each of the 17 stations once every four minutes.
Once functioning, this project is expected to be economically very viable as it will save huge working hours for people.
A 2018 study by the Accident Research Institute (ARC) at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology suggested that traffic congestion in Dhaka causes a loss of $4.4 billion annually -- 11% of the national budget of that fiscal year.
"Bangladesh could have saved $2.6 billion if it had reduced 60% of traffic congestion in Dhaka annually," the ARC Director Moazzem Hossain said during the publication of the study.