Monday, 24 January, 2022

Japan keen to fund Joydevpur-Ishwardi rail link project

Japan keen to fund Joydevpur-Ishwardi rail link project

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Japan has expressed interest in financing the Joydevpur-Ishwardi mixed gauge double rail line project.

Bangladesh Railway (BR) is now negotiating with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for project funding and the agency is keen on constructing the rail line in two phases, railway sources said.

China has earlier withdrawn its fund from the project.

Once the negotiation is fruitful, the process of signing a financing deal with JICA will start. Besides, the Railway is in search of a financier for the Akhaura-Sylhet double rail line project as well, sources added.

“JICA has shown interest in financing one project. A primary negotiation has been held with JICA for this,” a Bangladesh Railway high official said, requesting anonymity.

JICA seeks to implement the scheme in two phases. In the first phase, the rail line will be built from Joydevpur to Bangabandhu Rail Bridge and then the line will be extended to Ishwardi in the second phase, according to Japan’s proposal.

The railway ministry has informed the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) about this and the negotiation is yet to be final, the railway official said.

The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) gave the nod to the Joydevpur-Ishwardi railway upgrading project in 2018 and the Akhaura-Sylhet rail line project in 2019 involving a total of Tk 30.305 billion, including Tk 142.51 for Joydevpur-Ishwardi project and Tk 161.04 billion for Akhaura-Sylhet project.

However, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina later instructed for cutting the project cost after a PMO investigation found exaggerated cost estimation in the projects, official sources said.  The Prime Minister instructed for cost rationalization after the Physical Infrastructure Division of the Planning Commission submitted a report recommending Tk 48.50 billion cost cut from the two projects.

Accordingly, the railway ministry formed a cost rationalization committee to slash the estimated cost for the projects.