Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday directed the Railways Ministry to take up a project to properly repair shabby rail bridges across the country.
“I think all the old and worn-out rail bridges will have to be repaired after conducting a survey across the country,” she said.
Hasina gave the directive while opening a number of development projects, including two water treatment plants, two bridges and several train services by videoconferencing from her official residence Ganobhaban.
She said if a separate project is taken up to repair the old rail bridges, the government will approve it.
Trains run at a very slow pace and take more time to reach their destinations due to the old and shabby bridges, Hasina said, adding that there are also risks of accidents because of old bridges.
The PM said Bangladesh Railway can finance itself to repair its tracks and bridges quickly.
She regretted that previous governments had plans to close down train services under a golden-handshake programme and they shut down train services on different routes. “I think it was a suicidal decision.”
Hasina said the government is setting up railway networks throughout the country as people travel through trains safely and comfortably at cheaper fares.
Talking about water treatment plants, she urged all to exercise austerity in using water as it takes huge money to purify water in treatment plants.
About the country’s economic progress, the PM said it will not be possible to ensure overall development of a country by only making Dhaka-centric development.
“No country can be developed without socio-economic advancement of the grassroots people,” she said.
The services opened by the PM yesterday are commissioning of a pair of intercity new trains – “Jamalpur Express” on the Tarakandi-Jamalpur-Dhaka route, route extension of “Dhalarchar Express” (old Pabna Express) on the Dhalarchar-Pabna-Rajshahi route, “Rajbari Express” (old Faridpur Express) on the Pachuria-Faridpur-Bhanga route, and replacement of the coaches of “Udayan Express” and “Paharika Express” on the Chattagram-Sylhet-Chattogram route.
Besides, she opened the Sheikh Russell Water Treatment Plant in Chattogram, Bangabandhu Water Treatment Plant in Khulna, and two bridges -- 575-metre bridge over the Titas river in Brahmanbaria and 456-metre bridge over the Kaliganga river in Manikganj.
The other projects are 12-hour transmission of BTV’s Chattogram centre programmes, and mobile app – “Palli Transactions” -- for digital financial services of Palli Sanchay Bank.
In the videoconference, Hasina exchanged views with beneficiaries and stakeholders of the projects.
Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen, Information Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud, LGRD and Cooperatives Minister Md Tajul Islam, Railways Minister Md Nurul Islam Sujon and former minister Matia Chowdhury MP were present.
The PM’s Principal Secretary Dr Ahmad Kaikaus conducted the programme, while Financial Institutions Division Senior Secretary Md Ashadul Islam, Local Government Division Secretary Helaluddin Ahmed, Information Secretary Kamrun Nahar and Railways Additional Secretary Md Mujibur Rahman made presentations of the projects implemented by their respective ministries.
Japanese Ambassador to Bangladesh Ito Naoki, Indonesian Ambassador to Bangladesh Rina P Soemarno, World Bank’s country director for Bangladesh and Bhutan Mercy Miyang Tembon and ADB country director for Bangladesh Manmohan Parakash also attended the programme.