Zarif Mahmud: The government has taken a master plan to pave the Dhaka-Chittagong-Cox’s Bazar railway. Seven initiatives have been taken to implement this master plan. This will require a loan of US$ 9 billion (Tk 76,500 crore). Meanwhile, Bangladesh Railway has also offered loans to development partners through the Economic Relations Department (ERD). Loans have already been sought for three projects.
Bangladesh Railway has prepared the table of this master plan under the technical assistance (first revised) project of Dhaka-Chittagong-Cox’s Bazar Railway for preparatory facilities. The initial draft of the projects has been prepared mainly through technical projects. The cost and route of the project have been determined.
Dhaka-Chittagong-Cox’s Bazar double line dual gauge construction survey project director and director of Bangladesh Railway (Engineering) Abidur Rahman said that a 26 km railway line will be constructed from Maheshkhali to Matarbari. Besides, BG workshop will be constructed in Gazipur instead of Chittagong. Besides, a huge ICD (Inland Container Depot) will be constructed at Gazipur to solve the problem of Dhaka. Seven important master plans will be implemented, he added.
The implementation of the master plan requires a foreign loan of 9 billion US dollars. In the meantime, we have sent proposals to development partners for loans for three projects. We hope to get the support of ADB in implementing these initiatives.
Dhaka-Laksam dual gauge
The Dhaka-Chittagong railway line is the most important part of the Bangladesh rail network. This section is a large part of the Trans-Asian Railway and the Sub-Regional Railway Corridor. Bangladesh has the potential to be the hub of transport and trans-shipment in this sub-region. The Akhaura-Laksam section is the only single line in the Dhaka-Chittagong railway corridor, which will be the only limitation of internal, sub-regional and international rail communication in the railway corridor.
At present, it is necessary to establish uninterrupted double line in the Dhaka-Chittagong corridor of Bangladesh Railway to meet the demand of passenger and freight transport. Therefore, in the Dhaka-Chittagong corridor, Laksam-Chinki Astana and Chittagong meter gauge tracks are being converted into dual gauge double track projects in phases. It will cost $1.8 billion to implement (Tk 15,300 crore). Bangladesh Railway has offered a loan from a development partner through ERD to get a loan for the project.
Govt seeking a $ 350 m loan for ICD
The Rail Inland Container Depot (ICD) will be built on a 160-acre site near Joydevpur Dhirashram Railway Station in Gazipur, near Dhaka. According to Bangladesh Railway, it could cost up to $ 350 million. The government is considering implementing the project jointly with DP World in Dubai to build the ICD.
ADB loan has also been proposed through ERD. The concerned people think that the ICD of Kamalapur should have been shifted out of Dhaka long ago. If this is done, the pressure and traffic congestion on Dhaka will be reduced. On the other hand, if the ICD is transferred slowly, the container clutter will be reduced. Besides, the factories are Gazipur-Tongi-centric, which will benefit the importers and exporters.
The existing Chittagong-Dohazari meter gauge single line will be converted to dual gauge double line. The total cost will be $900 million or $900 million (Tk 6,650 crore). Meanwhile, Bangladesh Railway has asked for a loan of $900 million under the project. A train is going up and down due to reduction of train on Chittagong-Dohazari railway line. Occasionally freight trains and Furnace oil trains run.
As a result, Chittagong-Dohazari railway is now neglected. For all these reasons, the railway will be overhauled. The existing 46.04 km meter gauge single line from Chittagong to Dohazari needs to be converted to dual gauge so that trains can run on broad gauge double line from Cox’s Bazar and Ghumdhum.
According to Bangladesh Railway, loan proposals are being prepared for the remaining four projects.
BG workshop not Chittagong but Gazipur
Preliminary plans were made for construction of Broad Gauge (BG) Workshop near Meter Gauge Workshop at Pahartali, Chittagong. Later, according to the survey report and considering the financial development, it was decided to build a workshop in Gazipur. The space adjacent to Pahartali Workshop does not have the required amount of space for construction of BG Workshop. As a result, plans were made to set up another BG workshop.
If BG workshop is set up in Daripara area of Gazipur, service can be provided to both the eastern and western areas of the railway. With this in mind, it was decided to build a BG workshop in Gazipur, said Bangladesh Railway. It requires $ 942 or $ 942 million in foreign loans to build it. John ADB will ask for a loan to implement it in a short time.
Train will go to Matarbari
The government will build a new dual gauge rail link with the proposed power plant hubs at Maheshkhali and Matarbari. Foreign investment in this sector requires about one and a half billion US dollars. The equivalent of Tk 85 per dollar in Bangladeshi currency is Tk 12 thousand 650 crore. Bangladesh Railway has taken initiative to build 26 km railway line from Maheshkhali in Cox’s Bazar to Matarbari.
If the project is implemented, the containers can be transported directly from Matarbari deep sea port to Dhaka ICD by rail, said the concerned. Bangladesh Railway has also completed the design work after the feasibility study of the project. This railway will also be connected with Matarbari power plant.
Besides, Bangladesh Railway needs a loan of $1.6 billion (Tk 14,450 crore) for the phased conversion of Tongi-Bhairabbazar-Akhaura meter gauge double track to dual gauge double track in the Dhaka-Chittagong corridor. The Dhaka-Chittagong railway line is the most important corridor in the Bangladesh railway network. The major part of the revenue of Bangladesh Railway comes from this corridor through internal container transport and passenger transport.
The project of converting the existing meter gauge single line of Fauzdarhat-Chittagong Port Yard section to dual gauge double line requires $534 million or $53.4 crore (Tk 4 thousand 539 crore).
According to ERD sources, the committee was formed by the ERD when the concerned ministry and department proposed for the loan. Later, according to the decision of the committee, any proposal was sent to the concerned development partners including Japan-ADB, World Bank-China.
ERD Additional Secretary (ADB) Pierre Mohammedsaid,”ADB is now one of our largest development partners.” If the concerned company including Bangladesh Railway proposes for the loan, we send it to our committee. The money for the project can be obtained from any development partner after screening by the committee. We send the proposal after the decision of the committee. Many times, the concerned ministry-department tells us that a loan can be obtained from any development partner. I send the proposal accordingly.
State Minister for Planning Shamsul Alamsaid that the output should be seen before taking a loan for the project of Bangladesh Railway. “I had a meeting with the ADB Country Director (Edimon Ginting) in Bangladesh, he added. ADB always finances Bangladesh’s rail projects. I have made it clear to the Country Director that the ADB will lend to the rail project as soon as it sees the output. I accepted the railway project but if the output did not come then there is no benefit with the loan.
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