Govt has to wait further to get metro rail fund
Bangladesh may have to wait further to receive a Japanese fund of $1.8 billion for the metro rail project as the financier is still reviewing the scheme's feasibility study.
The loan would have been cleared by now, had the government endorsed in last August the metro route passing through Bijoy Sarani as per a survey of Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica).
The government later changed the route through Khamarbari, making the project's financier Japan take a second look at the venture.
“The Jica has completed its feasibility study. We have to work it out first before making a final decision,” said Japanese Ambassador to Bangladesh Shiro Sadoshima in an exclusive interview with The Daily Star.
“The construction is not the purpose -- it is the public service,” he pointed out.
He stressed preparing a transportation master plan for Dhaka incorporating a sustainable mass transport system.
Bangladesh has to consider many other factors simultaneously and must have to look at the whole city, added the envoy. “What is going to happen to the rickshaws, CNG-run three-wheelers and buses? You also have to think about the future development of the city.”
Contacted, Executive Director of Dhaka Transport Coordination Board (DTCB) Dr Salehuddin said the government expects to start the loan negotiations with Jica in next month.
“Once the negotiations are complete, we will appoint consultants and start other necessary works. The construction of the project is likely to commence in the middle of next year,” he mentioned.
The ambassador reiterated his country's commitment for funding the $2.9 billion Padma Bridge project. But he noted that Jica's $400 million fund is earmarked for the scheme's construction part and it cannot be released until the beginning of the construction of the 6.15 kilometre-long bridge.
In September last year, the lead financier World Bank had suspended its $1.2 billion funding in the project making corruption allegations against former communications minister Abul Hossain.
“Our commitment is still there. The World Bank has committed the largest portion. So we are waiting to see the allegations are cleared up and the bidding process is underway. Unless those are settled, we cannot go further,” maintained Sadoshima.
METRO RAIL PROJECT
The 20.1-kilometre metro rail route will stretch from Uttara third phase to Bangladesh Bank in Motijheel.
It will transport around 60,000 passengers in an hour during peak time from one end of the capital to the other.
Jica has pledged to provide a major portion of the $2.7 billion project.
But problems arose when Bangladesh Air Force objected to the Bijoy Sarani section of the route on the grounds that the 19-metre-high metro rail would hinder operations at Tejgaon airfield.
It pressed for diversion of the route along Sangsad Avenue through Khamarbari. The government later agreed to modify the route.