The main work on the ambitious Metro Rail project is set to start in February next, as its feasibility study is at the final stage.
According to Japan International Cooperation Agency, who will fund a lion's share of the Tk 21, 976.70 crore project, the proposed Metro Train in the capital city having 16 stoppages will operate in every three- minute interval and carry 60,000 passengers per hour.
An official at Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA), the project implementation agency, said the project work is going fast and the first phase of construction of the Metro Railway will complete by December, 2019. He further said the project is scheduled to be commissioned by 2024.
"Unless there is any natural calamity or man-made disaster in the country, the whole project will complete by 2022, which means two years ahead of the schedule", Obaidul Quader, Road Transport and Bridges Minister, told the Daily Observer.
Under this project, the trains will run from Uttara to Motijheel via Pallabi, Rokeya Sarani, Farmgate, Hotel Sonargaon, Hotel Ruposhi Bangla, TSC of Dhaka University, Doel Chattar and Topkhana Road. The routes would be extended up to Sayedabad from Bangladesh Bank through Atish Dipankar Road.
JICA has promised to provide Tk 16,594.59 crore for the project, while Bangladesh government will allocate Tk 5,382.11 crore.
The metro rail is likely to remove unbearable traffic congestion, now a perennial problem the city dwellers face. Nonetheless, traffic jam in the capital has become a matter of deep concern for not only the city planners but also for the commuters.
"Though there is no proper and institutional statistics, it can be said on the basis of various available data that the loss caused by traffic jam in terms of money would exceed Tk 12,000 crore a year", an economist says. Besides untold sufferings of the people, especially the office-goers and school-going children, working hours valued around Tk 127.75 crore are being lost a year because of traffic congestions, he said, adding: "If fuel, production, education, health, treatment and other things are added to it, the losses will multiply several times".
Officials close to the project said tender will be floated at the end of this year for the construction of the project. Eight tenders will be invited against the entire project. Of them, five tenders have already been floated while the rest are in the process. In any case, the authorities are adamant to start construction works in early January, 2016.
In the meantime, labourers dug a portion of a road at Pallabi in the capital recently after the inauguration of utility verification survey of Metro Rail Line 6. The Dhaka metro rail project has run into a tough obstacle as authorities are now faced with the challenge of shifting underground power lines that intersect the planned routes for the mass transit system.
Metro rail way project is being implemented smoothly by DTCA. It is housed in the Expatriate Welfare Bhaban at Eskaton of the city. RAJUK (Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha) has given the land under three projects of its Uttara Housing areas.
The first tender for the per-qualification of rolling stock (coach and locomotive) and equipment of the Uttara depot for the much-expected 20.5 km-long metro railway project was floated. While the second tender for the pre-qualification of the engineering and management system was floated in March this year. Other three tenders were invited in June last.
On January 26, an amended Metro Rail Bill 2015 was passed in the parliament to curb traffic jam by ensuring quick and improved transport services in the capital.
Although there had been a feasibility study in 2008, four years later the Power Grid Company Bangladesh (PGCB) set up a 33kV high-voltage underground transmission line stretching between Agargaon and Dhaka Cantonment- which falls under the proposed metro rail route.
Apart from this major hiccup in the plans, other utility projects since 2008 have also reshaped the underground layout of power lines in the area under the metro rail project.
A Tk 1200 crore fund is set aside for the sole purpose of relocating utility lines - including water supply lines-- is now expected to be far less than the amount needed in reality for the Dhaka Mass Rapid Development Project.
Officials said survey reports regarding the underground utility layout- provided by several government agencies- are unlikely to reveal the true complexity of the situation.
In a hands-on attempt to figure out the task ahead, the project authority has now started its own survey to verify the utility situation and the survey was kicked off recently in the capital's Pallabi area.
Inspecting the survey site on Thursday, Mofazzel Hossain, director of the metro rail project, told this correspondent that the elevated metro rail would be constructed over the middle of the existing streets. So the utility verification survey will be completed in the project areas within December this year."
Insiders said the metro rail authority has formed a technical committee to review whether the 33kV line by the PGCB should be shifted seven feet left of the metro rail project alignment.
Asked about this, Mofazzel said, "The technical committee has already estimated a Tk 62.63 crore cost for shifting the 33kV power line. We will immediately send a letter to the Power Grid Company Bangladesh for shifting the high-voltage line," he added.
"Without shifting the power line, it will not be possible to set piers for metro rail," the project director said.
Sources said PGCB finished the work on the 33kV line between the time the feasibility study was carried out and the project was given the final approval by the government in 2012.
A Japanese consortium company is now working on the detailed design of the project. It is also carrying out topographical, traffic and geo-technical surveys in different parts of the project.
Near about 55 countries in the world have metro rail systems in 148 cities including Indian's Delhi , Mumbai and Kolkata.