Bangladesh Railway (BR) yesterday signed a contract with a Chinese joint-venture firm to procure 125 railway luggage vans to boost transportation of agro-based products.
Under the contract, the joint venture firm of CNTIC-RAIL TECO-JINXI will supply 75 meter-gauge and 50 broad-gauge luggage vans at the cost of Tk 358.39 crore.
The firm would complete supplying the luggage vans in between 20 months and 24 months from the effective date of the contract and commissioning works would be completed within 27 months.
The luggage vans are being procured under the project titled "Rolling Stock Operation Improvement Project (Rolling Stock Procurement)" assisted by Asian Development Bank.
Mizanur Rahman, the project director, and Yang Bing, deputy general manager of CNTIC, signed the contract on behalf of the respective sides at capital's Rail Bhaban, in presence of Railways Minister Nurul Islam Sujan.
According to BR, although types and volumes of agro-based products like green vegetables, seasonal fruits, have tremendously increased in the last few decades, farmers are not getting due prices for the lack of proper transportation.
Transporting products like vegetables, fishes, milks and seasonal fruits by luggage vans or dedicated luggage trains will benefit both the farmers and consumers, which will create a positive impact in the growth of national economy, it said.
But BR has only 63 luggage vans, most of them have crossed their economic life of 35 years, and required services is not possible to get from the over aged luggage vans, BR said. So, it is going to procure 125 luggage vans to replace those overaged vans, it added.
Nurul Islam Sujan said the government is giving emphasis on the development of railway sector. BR is going to procure 125 luggage vans after 40 years, which is a manifestation that the it is not only giving important on passenger services but also on goods transport, he said.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, BR carried seasonal fruits, vegetables and cattle ahead of the Eid-ul-Azha. These luggage vans are being procured so that farmers can reach their products to the consumers directly and get due price of their projects, he added.
NO PLAN TO HIKE TRAIN FARE NOW
Meanwhile, the minister said they have not taken any decision to hike train fare as of now.
Sujan came up with the comments when several newspapers ran reports that BR is mulling hiking passenger and freight fares to improve service and minimise loss.
"There is a committee [to review train fare], which has placed their opinion before us [recently]. But, some media ran report giving 'wrong explanation' [of the meeting," Sujan said.
Railways Ministry's Secretary Salim Reza, BR Director General Md Shamsuzzaman, among others, were present at the contract signing ceremony.