Construction of the Japan-assisted dedicated railway bridge over the Jamuna River is expected to end within its first deadline as it is now moving faster after the corona hiccup.
The 4.8km Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Railway Bridge is being built parallel to the existing Bangabandhu Bridge as part of the government’s efforts to remove infrastructural bottlenecks for more economic mileage.
“The progress remained slow for 2-3 months after the second wave of Covid-19 because of shortage of workforce. But the project is now moving at a faster pace,” Project Director Al Fattah Md Musudur Rahman told the Daily Sun.
“Although the Japanese contractors were supposed to use three barge cranes for piling work, now they are using five barge cranes at a time to recoup corona losses,” he added.
He informed that so far they have faced no deviation from the design and the contractors are confident about completing the project by the 09 August 2024 deadline because implementation delay also shoots up the cost of construction.
The project work formally started on August 10, 2020, but piling work started on March 22, 2021, after materials mobilisation starting from December last year, the project director informed.
The bridge foundation is being built with Steel Pipe Sheet Pile (SPSP) drive, which is second of its kind in the country after the Kanchpur-Meghna-Gumti (KMG) bridge project, also a Japan assisted scheme.
The project is being implemented in two packages—WD1 and WD2. Obayashi-TOA-JFE Joint Venture, Japan and IHI-SMCC Joint Venture, Japan are the contractors of the two packages. So far, the project work advanced 35.25 per cent physically and 22.77 per cent financially with Tk 38.22 billion total expenditure.
The revised cost of the project now stands at Tk 167.81 billion of which Jica is providing Tk 121.49 billion or 72.40 per cent of the cost and Tk 46.32 billion is borne from the state coffer. Out of total of 50 piers, SPSP drives in nine piers have been completed under the WD1 package, including finishing of SPSP inside concreting for four piers, while pile drive is going on for four piers under the WD2 package, according to the project office.
Apart from the construction of 4.80km main bridge, a total of 30.70km rail line, including a 0.05km viaduct at both sides, 7.667 km railway approach embankment, loop and siding, will be constructed.
Existing stations at both sides and their signalling and telecommunications systems will be improved as well.
The government had to construct a separate bridge on the Jamuna River as trains can run at a speed of only 15km on Bangabandhu bridge.
“Crossing the bride consumes takes nearly 50 minutes, including 30 minutes passing time and 20 minutes under gear checking for each train,” Al Fattah pointed out. Besides, goods trains can not ply on the bridge although it is the only means of profit for Bangladesh Railway, he added.
Currently, only 38 trains can run over Bangabandhu Bridge per day. Once the double line bridge comes into operation, 88 to 90 trains can be operated per day, including goods trains, and trains will be able to cross the bridge at a speed of 120km per hour, informed project engineers.