Viaduct links two ends of capital
The main structure of the country's first metro rail project was completed yesterday with the installation of the last segment of the viaduct, which now connects two ends of the capital -- Uttara and Motijheel.
At 11:14am, the last segment was installed between piers 582 and 583 near the Jatiya Press Club, completing the entire 20.1-km viaduct on which the rail lines would be laid.
MAN Siddique, managing director of Dhaka Mass Transit Company Limited (DMTCL), the implementing agency of the project, announced the completion of viaduct installation through an online press conference.
It took around 10 minutes to install the last girder, where national flags were attached, and officials and staffers both in the field and those attending the press conference applauded enthusiastically to celebrate the achievement.
Formally known as the Mass Rapid Transit Line 6 or MRT Line-6, the elevated rail line is being constructed between Uttara Sector-3 and Motijheel.
Commercial operation in the Uttara-Agargaon section will start on December 16 -- the country's Victory Day -- this year. The full section will be operational by December 2023, as per the DMTCL announcement.
Once operational, the metro rail will be able to transport 60,000 people per hour and reduce travel time from Uttara to Motijheel from about two hours to only 40 minutes.
The original cost of the project was Tk 21,985 crore but project authorities last year sought a further Tk 11,487 crore for additional work, including extension of the line up to Kamalapur and building spacious footpaths outside the stations for convenient entry and exit of passengers.
If the proposal for additional funds is approved, the cost of the fast-track project would be Tk 33,472 crore and deadline would be December 2025, one and a half years longer than the original one.
Asked about the cost escalation proposal, MAN Siddique said they would take measures for ensuring comfortable exit and entry of the passengers from the stations.
"We don't want to create anymore problem for Dhaka city," he said.
They will build several station plazas, transit-oriented hubs (TODs) and expand the line to Kamalapur. So, a majority of the additional money would be used for land acquisition, he said.
Besides, the higher exchange rate of the US dollar and the rise of value-added tax and customs duty are the other major reasons behind the cost escalation, Siddique said.
Replying to a question, MAN Siddique said foreign consultants had earlier recommended keeping additional space at the station entrances for passengers' convenience.
"But we decided to build MRT first and address the issues. Now, construction of the MRT is at the last stage so we are now addressing the matter. We have time to address it [expanding space for entry and exit]," he said.
Siddique was secretary of Road Transport and Highways Division from November 2011 to October 2017, the period when the project was approved and detailed design was drawn.
Replying to another question, he said they hoped to withdraw all barriers on roads in Agargaon-Mirpur area, except for station areas, by April this year to reduce people's suffering.