Metro rail would not be operational until December 2021, one year behind the schedule.
“As per the plan that we have made, we will be able to start operation of the entire part [the 20km MRT Line-6] on December 16, 2021,” said MAN Siddique, managing director of Dhaka Mass Transit Company Ltd (DMTCL), the government-owned company implementing the project.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had directed that the service from Uttara Phase-3 to Agargaon be made operational this year and the service from Agargaon to Motijheel by 2020.
But project implementation progress left much to be desired. The progress until yesterday was 24.69 percent while the progress of just the first part (Uttara to Agargaon) was 40.58 percent, the company said.
Instead of making half of it operational first, the DMTCL now plans to make the entire line from Uttara to Motijheel operational on December 16, 2021 when the country would be celebrating the golden jubilee of independence.
“As per the ongoing sequence of construction, we hope that we will be able to complete all work [within December 2021] unless there is a big problem,” Siddique said at the progress review meeting of Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) lines at its Agargaon site office.
Originally, the line’s implementation period was 2012-2024.
Once completed, the 20.10km rail service with 16 stations will carry 60,000 passengers per hour and significantly reduce travel time from at least two hours to 36 minutes.
Meanwhile, people’s suffering on key city streets, due to the construction work, is likely to persist.
The officials at the meeting did not say why the DMTCL was failing to implement the first part by this year and the second part by 2020.
However, MAN Siddique hoped that the construction work of the first part would be completed within December and the second part within December next year. Work on installation of electric components on the viaducts would start in October, he said.
He said that they are hopeful that they would start receiving the trains from Japan, where they are being built, from June 15 next year.
When all trains reach the country, the DMTCL would run integrated tests and trial runs, he said.
TRAFFIC MESS TO REMAIN
With just one metro rail line operational, the city’s traffic congestion problem will not be solved completely, said Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader at the meeting.
He said the government would build six MRT lines in Dhaka and its adjacent areas within 2030 and MRT line-6 is the first.
“The six lines are a well-thought-out package aimed at reducing congestion. But people think opening one line will solve the problem but this is not right.
“Perhaps, many of us will not get the benefit but the next generation of Bangladesh will get the benefit,” he said.
The ongoing construction of the metro rail on capital’s key thoroughfares has made the chaotic traffic even worse, largely because engineering solutions have not been implemented to better use the narrowed down streets, causing people’s sufferings, experts and officials have said.
Quader urged people to have patience and tolerate the temporary difficulties to get permanent relief. He sought journalists’ cooperation in this regard so that people understand the situation.
Replying to question on whether the government had any specific plan to deal with the traffic problems that may arise during implementations of metro lines, neither Quader nor MAN Siddique gave a direct answer.
Quader said they would implement those in phases.
Some parts of other MRT lines would be underground while some parts in Narayanganj, Bhatara, and Hemayetpur areas would not impede traffic.
Both of them hinted that the cost of implementing the MRT Line-6 could reduce.
MAN Siddique claimed that Singapore built metro rail network in the shortest time, 25 years, but Bangladesh would establish the network in 18 years.