Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) will provide Bangladesh with $3.3 billion (¥338.25 billion or Tk 26,850 crore) in official development assistance to help implement seven important projects, including Jamuna railway bridge construction and expansion of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport.
An agreement was signed between the Economic Relations Division and Jica at the National Economic Council conference room at Sher-e-Bangla Nagar in the city yesterday.
JAMUNA RAILWAY BRIDGE CONSTRUCTION PROJECT (II)
Bangladesh Railway will implement the project worth $833.7 million with a target to complete it by March 2024.
The objective of the project is to improve the capacity and safety of transportation by constructing a dedicated railway bridge over the river Jamuna in parallel with the existing Bangabandhu bridge (Jamuna multipurpose bridge).
The project will contribute to an efficient logistic and passenger network within the country and with neighbours, according to a statement from Jica.
The existing Bangabandhu multipurpose bridge, which Japan had co-financed with the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank in the late 1990s, has some restrictions regarding weight load, size and speed of train movements.
Although the railway route has great potential, especially for freight transport with the neighbouring countries, it has been limited because of such restrictions.
"Therefore, the construction of a dedicated railway bridge is indispensable to meet the increasing and sub-regional traffic demand."
Jamuna railway bridge (4.8 kilometres) will be an important part of the international and regional transport network such as trans-Asian railway network, Saarc corridor and BIMSTEC railway network.
This is one of the five projects included in the "Japan-Bangladesh Comprehensive Partnership" joint statement and was specifically requested by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina during her visit to Japan in May 2014.
HAZRAT SHAHJALAL INT'L AIRPORT EXPANSION PROJECT (II)
The Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh is implementing the project of $749.3 million, which is expected to be complete by April 2024.
The project will meet future demand for air transportation and improve airport capacity, convenience and safety by constructing a third terminal, an international passenger terminal, cargo terminals and other infrastructure and facilities at the airport in Dhaka.
The airport has witnessed a rapid increase in demand in both passenger and cargo. The number of passengers using this airport increases on an average 8 per cent every year, while import and export rise 12 per cent, according to the statement.
After completion of the project, the number of international passengers is expected to increase to 12 million per year and the volume of international cargo will reach 510,000 tonnes.
"The airport will be transformed into a major international hub in Asia with higher security and better services."
DHAKA MASS RAPID TRANSIT DEVELOPMENT PROJECT IV
Dhaka Mass Transit Company Limited will implement the project worth $676.1 million, which is scheduled to be completed by December 2022.
The project will alleviate traffic congestion and mitigate air pollution in Dhaka city by constructing a mass rapid transit system, contributing to regional economic development and improving the urban environment.
Dhaka suffers from a lack of good transport network causing many problems to the city-dwellers due mainly to its high population density.
The situation has worsened in recent years because of an increase in vehicles and motorbikes without inadequate infrastructure development. Time loss on the way due to traffic jam is enormous and undoubtedly a big bottleneck for socio-economic development, the Jica statement says.
Annual economic loss for traffic jam is said to be as large as Tk 20,000 crore, equivalent to 1.5 per cent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP).
The MRT line 6 will be the country's first-ever metro rail system. Once constructed, the MRT line 6 will help carry five lakh passengers per day and shorten the average travel time from Uttara to Motijheel from 110 minutes to 36 minutes.
Around 9km of the 20km-long viaduct is now visible as the construction of the project has witnessed significant progress.
DHAKA MASS RAPID TRANSIT DEVELOPMENT PROJECT (LINE 5 NORTHERN ROUTE) I
This project too will be implemented by Dhaka Mass Transit Company Limited at a cost of $521.6 million and will be completed by November 2029.
The project will also help reduce traffic congestion in Dhaka city and the adjoining areas by constructing a mass rapid transit system, thereby contributing to the economic growth and improving the urban environment in Bangladesh.
A 20km-long MRT line 5 is a major part of the mass transportation network of Dhaka which will connect important urban centres such as Gabtoli bus terminal, Mirpur, Banani, Gulshan and Baridhara.
The MRT line 5 will establish east-west connectivity of Dhaka city and connect line 1 and line 6 running through the north-south corridor. After the construction of the MRT line 5, an integrated MRT network will be established in Dhaka city.
CHATTOGRAM-COX'S BAZAR HIGHWAY IMPROVEMENT PROJECT
The Roads and Highways Department will complete the project worth $18 million within September 2023. The project aims to achieve smooth cargo transportation between Matarbari port and Chattogram by improving roads at congested town areas along National Highway 1 (NH1).
The NH 1 (Dhaka-Chattogram-Cox's Bazar) is the most important highway in Bangladesh, but traffic congestion in town areas along NH1, especially in Chattogram and Chakaria, has been aggravated due to an increase in traffic demand and insufficient road capacity.
The Jica-financed Matarbari port is scheduled to start operation in 2024. After the commencement of the Matarbari port's operation, the traffic demand of N1 will increase and traffic congestion is expected to rise further.
"Therefore, it is urgently needed to improve the congested areas between Chattogram and Matarbari port along the NH1," the statement says.
The project will focus on the improvement of five major bottlenecks between Chattogram and Cox's Bazar to secure a proper transportation route in line with the construction schedule of Matarbari port.
The sections to be improved are planned to connect the proposed Chattogram-Cox's Bazar expressway to be developed under a public-private partnership. This first loan will cover engineering services.
FOOD VALUE CHAIN IMPROVEMENT PROJECT
Bangladesh Infrastructure Finance Fund will implement the project worth $105.1 million within September 2026.
The project will improve credit access for agribusinesses and food processing industries, and enhance their capacity for business development, food processing and food safety by providing concessional financing and technical assistance.
The market size for processed food will be growing at about 7.2 per cent annually for the next five years, according to the statement. However, in Bangladesh, still, there is a lack of value addition in agricultural products with appropriate post-harvest technologies as well as food safety assurance.
"The project will address these issues which are hampering the development of agribusiness and food processing industries and also create employment opportunities in both rural and urban areas."
URBAN DEVELOPMENT AND CITY GOVERNANCE PROJECT
The Local Government Engineering Department will implement the project by June 2026 to develop urban functioning by improving urban infrastructure and strengthening city governance related to infrastructure development in the target cities.
The $264.25-million project would contribute to economic growth, improvement of living conditions and sustainable cities, the statement says.
Though urbanisation is the key contributor to the strong growth of industries and social development, rapid urbanisation will cause an acute shortage in urban infrastructure and services resulting in adverse environmental and social impacts.
In this context, the local government institutions will have to improve their capacities to provide public services to urban citizens by strengthening their manpower and financial foundation.
Participatory planning process and coordination among stakeholders are also the key to building a sustainable city. "This project will thus address the urban infrastructure development in parallel with governance improvement of the urban local bodies."