News Desk: Bangladesh Railway (BR) is yet to start the construction of a 12-kilometre rail track under the 25-kilometre Dhaka-Tongi 3rd and 4th dual gauge line extension project though 10 years have passed since the start of the project.
The project, which is supposed to be completed by 2023, has already been revised twice without making any significant progress.
Project officials said Dhaka-Tongi Rail Line Expansion and Dhaka Elevated Expressway projects meet at Airport. The two projects overlap each other up to Kamalapur as the expressway is being constructed just above the rail track. That’s why construction work of the expressway needs to be completed first.
Sources said BR is preparing another revised proposal, increasing the estimated cost and time despite Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s serious resentment over the unusual delay in project implementation.
The project was launched in 2012.
BR officials said they could not start the work in the section as the development work of the Dhaka Elevated Expressway is underway on the same route. They cannot start the construction work of the 3rd and 4th lines until the completion of the expressway.
As a result, the cost and duration of the project are now required to be revised and the project is set to miss its June 2023 deadline.
However, project officials of the expressway said they were trying to clear the route by June 2023 by completing their work. But sources said that the project advanced only 45 per cent in the last 10 years and it is uncertain when the rest of the work will be completed.
Naznin Ara Keya, director of the third and fourth rail line expansion project, said, “It is not possible to start the 3rd and 4th lines expansion work from Banani to Kamalapur until the expressway is completed in this section.”
She said that the expressway authorities sought time till 2024 to complete the work.
“The construction work of the expressway is also obstructing the work of rail tracks expansion. We cannot start the line expansion work because the expressway work might damage the track embankment.”
According to the project sources, the stipulated time and budget of the project were revised twice in the last 10 years with only 36 per cent progress made.
BR sources said the expansion work of rail lines started in 2012 with a target to complete it by 2015 at a cost of Tk 8.84 billion. The project was revised twice and the budget soared to Tk 11.06 billion while the deadline was extended to June 2023.
However, in July 2018, BR signed a contract with Indian companies Afcons and Kalpataru Power Transmission Limited (KPTL) for implementing the project at a cost of Tk 13.93 billion, which is Tk 2.87 billion higher than the amount mentioned in the revised DPP in 2019.
Project officials of Dhaka Elevated Expressway said the project is scheduled to be completed by June 2023. The physical progress of the project is only 45 per cent though the project was launched in 2012.
Dhaka Elevated Expressway Project Director AHMS Aktar said, “Two projects in the same alignment cannot run together. We are heading first and they are coming after us. We are working in full swing. We faced some problems with funding but the railway never had such problems.”
Aktar said they would try their best to complete the rest 55 per cent work by June 2023.
Besides, the rail expansion project still needs to acquire land from Civil Aviation Authority and cantonment along with removing illegal establishments built on different points of Dhaka-Tongi rail track.
Dhaka South City Corporation constructed Khilgaon-Mailbagh road grabbing the land of 3rd and 4th line project. This land also needs to be recovered.
The overall progress of the project
The construction work of 35-kilometre project including a 25-kilometre track on Dhaka-Tongi route and a 10-kilometre railway track on the Tongi-Joydevpur route advanced only 36 per cent while the overall progress is 57 per cent, BR officials said.
The project director said the project needs further extension of time and increase in the budget.
Progress of the double line expansion work in the Tongi-Joydevepur section is 87 per cent. The progress is 50 per cent in the Tongi to Airport section, and 35 per cent in the airport to Banani section.
Project Director Naznin Ara Keya said that they would solve the issues facing the project through an inter-ministerial meeting.
BR sources said that the project of third and fourth dual-gauge lines’ expansion work along the existing two tracks on the Dhaka-Tongi route and second dual gauge track on Tongi-Joydevpur route will allow passage of more trains from Kamalpur every 3-5 minutes without the need for waiting in the outer signals.
During the recent visit to the project site in the Tongi section, the development work of a platform and a station was seen going on.
The construction work of the railway embankment is underway at some places between Abdullahpur to Airport area. However, no development work was seen from Kamalapur to Banani area and there are a large number of illegal structures on the project site. The construction work of a Rail Bridge over the Turag River is in its halfway.