April 16, 2024

The Mass Rapid Transit Line-2 project, another metro rail line to be laid out from Gabtoli to Chittagong Road on Dhaka-Chattogram Highway, faces a setback with the authorities now seeking to change the way it would be financed and implemented.
Th project was supposed to be implemented under the Government to Government (G2G) PPP (Public Private Partnership) model with Japan.
But the metro rail authorities now look to implement it under a government initiative, as it finds unacceptable the options Japan has lately given under the PPP model.
Meantime, between the original plan and the latest development, five years have gone by.
The PPP authorities will place the fresh stance before the ongoing fifth Bangladesh-Japan Joint PPP Platform meeting in Japan, and the final decision is expected to be taken there, officials said.
The joint PPP platform meeting began on October 3 and will go on till October 7.
The physical work of the 24km-long line was slated to start in 2024 and be completed by 2030. There now may be a delay due to the recent developments over financing and the mode of implementation, the officials said.
Meanwhile, Dhaka Mass Transit Company Ltd (DMTCL), the implementing agency of the metro rail projects,  sent a proposal to the road transport and highways division last month for a feasibility study of the project.
The financier for the study, however, has not been fixed yet.
The government plans to build around 130km metro rail network with six lines crisscrossing Dhaka and adjacent areas within 2030 in efforts to reduce traffic congestion and pollution.
The first metro line from Uttara to Motijheel is scheduled to be partially open to traffic this December.
Under the G2G-PPP arrangement, Bangladesh may request other governments to provide financial support to implement the project, and that particular country will select a state-owned or private entity to act as an investor.
Japan is providing funds for the first three metro rail lines — MRT Line 6, 1 and 5 (northern route) — with soft loans.
MRT-LINE 2
The 24km line, which will have both elevated and underground sections, will start from Gabtoli and touch Basila, Mohammadpur, Jigatola, Science Lab, Nilkhet, Azimpur, Central Shaheed Minar, Police Headquarters, Gulistan, Motijheel, Arambagh, Kamalapur, Mugda, and Demra before reaching Chittagong Road point.
Bangladesh and Japan had signed an agreement to implement the MRT Line-2 project under the G2G PPP initiative.
The matter was discussed at all four Bangladesh-Japan Joint PPP Platform meetings held between December 2017 and December 2020.
In November 2018, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs okayed in principle the proposal for implementing the project under PPP initiative, documents show.
Japan even selected a major company of its — Marubeni Corporation — as the private partner for the project.
However, the PPP research, carried out by the Japanese authorities in 2020, “did not find the project economically viable”, said MAN Siddique, managing director of DMTCL.
The line had been found to be viable in the Strategic Transport Plan in 2005 and Revised STP prepared by the government in 2016.
Against this backdrop, Japan conducted another study sometime after 2020. It found the line economically viable, MAN Siddique added.
But Japan gave several options to implement it under the PPP model, he said.
In one option, the Japanese side said metro rail authorities will build the line, and Japan will be in charge of operation and maintenance of the line under PPP initiative.
In another, it said metro rail authorities will carry out the civil works (viaduct and tunnel) and provide a certain amount of money as Viability Gap Finance, while the Japanese side will install rail tracks and other equipment, procure metro trains, and take care of operation and maintenance.
But the metro rail authorities could not agree to those options, Siddique said.
PROJECT FACES DELAY
A June 23 meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office regarding the PPP projects decided to withdraw the MRT Line-2 project from the G2G PPP project list, documents show.
The meeting also decided to implement the project with the help from development partners under a government initiative.
On August 22, the road transport and highways division sent a letter to the PPP authorities regarding the new decision and asked them to place it before the fifth Bangladesh-Japan Joint PPP Platform meeting.
“We hope a final decision will come out of the meeting,” Siddique said.
He added the surveys and other works done under PPP research and the preliminary study will be helpful for future work.
Asked if the new decision will cause any delay in starting the physical work, he skipped a direct answer. He said the authorities will now have to carry out a feasibility study and some other works.
“If we can’t do those within two years, we will be able to do it within three … In that case, we will have to work fast to complete the work within 2030,” he told The Daily Star yesterday.
Along with the change in the mode of implementation, there are two more developments regarding the project.
On September 26, DMTCL sent the Preliminary Development Project Proposal to the road transport and highways division to forward it to the Planning Commission for carrying out a feasibility study for the project.
DMTCL sent another project to the division on September 25 for acquiring land under Damaripara and Matuail moujas to build the metro line depot.
পাহাড়ে আর কাউকে পুনর্বাসন করা হবে না এবং যারা পাহাড়ি এলাকায় অবৈধভাবে বসবাস করছে তাদেরকে উচ্ছেদ করে নিজ নিজ এলাকায় পুনর্বাবসন করা হবে বলে জানিয়েছেন চট্টগ্রামের বিভাগীয় কমিশনার আশরাফ উদ্দিন।

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