Thursday, 2 December, 2021

Mass Rapid Transit to change face of Dhaka

Dhaka metro rail to usher in new era of communication: Japanese envoy

  • 16th November, 2021 10:14:29 PM
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Mass Rapid Transit to change face of Dhaka

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Bangladesh and Japan are going to script another milestone in their time-tested friendship as Japan-assisted dream Dhaka metro rail project will open in December next year, much to the delight of the city dwellers.

The two countries are expecting an exchange of high-level visits during the inauguration of Line-6 of the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT), ushering in a new era of electric trains in Bangladesh.

The opening of the MRT is steadily approaching and various structures are also emerging in Dhaka city, said the Japanese envoy on Tuesday.

“The train in the traditional colours of Bangladesh will run in Dhaka city with Japanese technologies,” Ambassador Ito Naoki said, adding: “The MRT symbolises the changing face of Dhaka and the friendship between Japan and Bangladesh.”

He said it would be fantastic to have an exchange of high-level visits during the inauguration of the metro rail in December next year.

“We’ve set a lot of milestones of fulfilling the dream of Bangladesh. The test run of the new metro car has marked the golden jubilee of independence of Bangladesh in 2021 and the opening of the Line-6 will be part of the celebration of 50 years of diplomatic relations between Japan and Bangladesh in 2022,” said Ito Naoki.

He made the remarks during a press tour as passengers’ transportation in the Uttara-Agargaon section of the MRT Line-6 is set to begin in December next year.

Chief Representative of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Bangladesh office Hayakawa Yoho, Dhaka Mass Transit Company Limited (DMTCL) Managing Director MAN Siddique and a select group of journalists witnessed the test operation of a metro train at Uttara Centre Station.

They along with two former and one current members of the Bangladesh national cricket team -- Habibul Bashar Sumon, Abdur Razzak and Mehidy Hasan Miraz -- also visited the exhibition centre and took part in a brief programme there.

"Hopefully, we can have an exchange of high-level visits but nothing has been decided yet. That would be fantastic if the high-level visit takes place during the opening of the metro rail," said the ambassador.

Briefing journalists, he said the project is an integral part of the BIG-B (The Bay of Bengal Industrial Growth-Belt) Initiative and a first track project designated by Bangladesh which attracts a lot of people’s expectations. “This single project will bring many ‘first-ever’ to Bangladesh.”

Ito Naoki said electric vehicles, rapid pass with FeliCa chip developed by Sony, relief from traffic contestation, punctual train service, highest safety awareness and much more “first-ever” will come from this single project. “The MRT will usher citizens in a new era for Bangladesh.”

He said the flagship project has faced many tough challenges -- from the terrible terror attack to the pandemic crisis. “Japan has been working with Bangladesh to overcome these challenges. Despite such difficult circumstances, the opening of the new facility is steadily approaching thanks to the efforts of all concerned,” he said.

The Japanese ambassador said he was so thrilled when he found that some prominent cricketers shared posts on metro rail on their Facebook pages. “The cricketers have fans and supporters and now they have become fans and supporters of metro rail,” he said, welcoming the trio.

He said Bangladesh and Japan are time-tested friends and through cooperation, the two countries have set many milestones in fulfilling their shared dreams. “Our relations will further be strengthened,” he said.

JICA Bangladesh office Chief Representative Hayakawa Yoho said the work is progressing rapidly and it is truly a mega project. “Countless memories will be created by the MRT. Let’s create a new metro culture together.”

Habibul Bashar Sumon said they are happy to see such a project in place that will make life easier and save time.

MAN Siddique, managing director of DMTCL, the implementing agency of the fast-track project, said currently test runs of seven trains are underway and they will be able to begin transporting passengers comfortably if they have 10-12 trains which will be arriving well before the planned beginning.

He said they will recommend fares keeping in mind the affordability of passengers and it will hopefully be fixed by the government while trains will run every 3 and half minutes from Uttara to Agargaon.

Siddique said they faced many challenges but now they are in a comfortable situation as the country’s Covid-19 situation has come under control.

The MRT Line-6, the country's first metro rail system with 16 stations, will help reduce travel time between Uttara and Motijheel.

Besides, the metro rail authorities will open a metro rail exhibition and information centre in Diabari in January next to give people a first experience about the inside of the metro train and know about the ticket-buying process after visiting it.

The exhibition centre, established inside the metro rail depot, will come into service within two months as the authorities have planned to start the operation of the country’s first-ever metro rail from December next year.

The MRT Line-6 is being built from Uttara Third Phase to Motijheel at a cost of Tk 21,985 crore. The lion’s share of the project cost is funded by Japan as soft loan.

The Uttara-Agargaon portion is part of the 20.10-km route to Motijheel. There will be 16 stations between Uttara and Motijheel.

Around 60,000 people will be able to commute every hour between Uttara and Motijheel in less than 40 minutes.

According to the project officials, the overall progress of the MRT project was 72 percent till October. The first phase -- Uttara to Agargaon -- witnessed an 89.61 percent progress while the second phase -- Agargaon to Motijheel -- 70 percent till October.

The project authorities started the performance test of the metro train sets on October 23 and it will take up to six months to complete the trial run.

Then, it will take three months to complete the integrity test and five months for trial run without passengers, the officials added.

“However, the time of some tests may be overlapped. We’ll complete all the tests and trial run without passengers within September next year,” said the DMTCL MD.