Physical work of the country’s first ever underground metro rail — from Dhaka Airport to Kamalapur — is likely to begin in March next year, more than a year after the original plan, largely due to Covid-19 pandemic situation.
The works of the Tk 52,561.43-crore project will start with land development for depot at Pitalganj in Narayanganj’s Rupganj. Metro rail authority has already floated tender for the work.
Once the line, formally known as Mass Rapid Transit Line-1 or MRT-1, is completed, it would be able to carry 8 lakh passengers daily. The deadline is December 2026.
“The last date for submitting tender bid is September 8. We will be able to start physical works within six months of the submission date,” MAN Siddique, managing director of Dhaka Mass Transit Company Ltd (DMTCL), the implementing agency of the project, said.
“We hope that the work will start in March next year,” Siddique told reporters at a virtual press briefing yesterday.
The 31.24km MRT Line-1 will have two parts — around 19.87km from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport to Kamalapur underground line and around 11.36km elevated lines from Notun Bazar to Purbachal.
It would have 21 stations, of which 12 would be underground and the rest would be elevated. Two elevate stations — Natun Bazar and Jamuna Future Park — will overlap with two underground stations.
The MRT Line-1 will be second among the six lines to be built in the capital and its adjacent areas to ease traffic congestion and control environmental pollution.
The government has taken up a plan to build the 128.74km metro rail network — 67.56km elevated and 61.17km underground –within 2030 for Dhaka city and adjacent areas.
Construction of the country’s first ever metro rail line — MRT-6 — is now going on to connect Uttara Third Phase with Motijheel with 20.1km elevated rail lines.
Siddque said they would not be able to meet their target for early commissioning of the metro line in December this year due to the Covid situation.
However, they are hopeful about starting partial operation — first phase from Uttara to Agargaon — from June next year, if the pandemic situation does not deteriorate further, he said.
The project has seen 64.91 percent progress till May.
MAJOR FEATURES OF MRT LINE -1
Feasibility study of MRT Line-1 was done in December 2018. The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council approved the project in October 2019.
Of the Tk 52,561.43 crore costs, the government will provide Tk 13,111 crore while Japan Tk 39,450 crore as soft lone.
The authorities had a plan to start the physical work of the project in December last year. Later, they hoped to start the work in June this year. But, the Covid-19 situation forced them to change the deadline, officials said.
Asked whether they will be able to meet the deadline, Project Director of MRT Line-1 Saidul Hoque said “It’s true that we are lagging behind in some works due to Covid situation… But we have deployed more manpower to cover it. We are hopeful about completing the project within December 2026,” he added.
MAN Siddique said they will start boring works from four places — Airport, Kuril, Natun Bazar and Kamalapur — in Dhaka city.
“We are hopeful that we will be able to do early commission of MRT Line-1, like as we planned for MRT Line-6 if the Covid situation does not deteriorate further,” he added.
Asked about the possible public suffering when project works start, he claimed that suffering would not be that much like MRT Line-6,as most of the works would be done underground. However, they will take measures to reduce people’s suffering, he said.
Saidul Hoque said so far 15 companies, mostly from Japan, two from China and two from Bangladesh, have expressed interest to works for the first of 12 packages.
MAN Siddique also refuted the allegations that Dhaka North City Corporation Atiqul Islam raised on Wednesday about metro rail authority’s inaction for water-logging in Shewrapara and Kazipara.