• Sun. Jun 4th, 2023

South Korea to finance construction of Kamalapur-Narayanganj route


Apr 15, 2023

The government is moving away from sole dependency on Japan to implement the metro rail projectsFile photo
Bangladesh embarked upon the era of metro rail service with technical and financial support from Japan. The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is financing the MRT Line-6 project from Uttara to Kamalapur. The country is also providing financial assistance in the ongoing MRT Line-1 and Line-5 construction project.

However, the government is moving away from sole dependency on Japan to implement the metro rail projects. As part of this, the government has decided to seek assistance from South Korea in the MRT Line-4 project.

This route stretches from Kamalapur in the capital to Madanpur in Narayanganj. The government held several policy-level meetings with the country. South Korea has also shown keen interest in being involved in the construction of metro rail in Bangladesh.

Although Japan was supposed to be part of the construction project of MRT Line-4 in continuation of its participation in previous metro rail projects in Bangladesh, the country was excluded this time in the end. Already a proposal seeking project funds has been sent officially to the Economic Development Co-operation Fund (EDCF) of South Korea last week.

According to the Dhaka Mass Transit Company Limited (DMTCL), the MRT Line-4 route from Kamalapur to Madanpur in Narayanganj will go via Sayedabad, Jatrabari, Shanir Akhra, Signboard and Chattogram Road. The route will cover a distance of 16 kilometres.

The preliminary cost of the project is estimated at Tk 284 billion. Of this, the EDCF of South Korea will provide Tk 212.5 billion as loan for the implantation of the project while the Bangladesh government will bear the remaining cost of Tk 71.50 billion.

The DMTCL officials, however, are saying the projected cost is not the final as yet. The overall cost of the project can be estimated only after a detailed Survey.

Why South Korea instead of Japan?
The government is constructing five metro rail lines, including subways and elevated ways, to reduce the traffic congestion in the capital city. The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is financing three of these projects. The Japanese development agency wanted to fund the proposed MRT Line-4 project too.

The Bangladesh government, however, decided not to proceed with Japan for the MRT Line-4 project. Five relevant officials shared with Prothom Alo the reasons for choosing South Korea instead of Japan for the MRT Line-4 project.

They said that the two countries are equal in terms of quality of the project. It has been learnt through a comparative study on the expenditure of metro rail projects in the two countries that seeking funds from South Korea would be more cost effective.

Adding to that is the lack of scope of any further negotiation with Japan regarding the project cost. Now, the government has to accept whatever cost Japan is showing. The government has decided to look for alternative options to raise competition.

Bangladesh and Japan signed a memorandum of association in 2017 which stated that the MRT Line-4 project would be implemented following the PPP (Purchasing Power Parity) process at government level. However, the government has now moved away from its previous stance.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, secretary Emdad Ullah Miyan, member of the Planning Commission involved with the processing of the MRT Line-4 project said that South Korea would finance this project. It has been decided. The decision was taken in order to bring a competitive environment in metro rail projects, he added.

On condition of anonymity an official involved with the MRT Line-6 project, told Prothom Alo, “We had chances to buy the coaches of metro rail at a cheaper rate than what we spent. However, there were some obligations to procure the coaches from Japan as they financed the project. We did not have the chance to verify even the market price.”

The Line-4 route was from Kamalapur to Narayanganj railway lines in the Revised Strategic Transport Plan (RSTP). That initial route plan has been changed. The route has been extended up to Madanpur in Narayanganj.

Asked about the reason for changing the route, the DMTCL officials said Bangladesh Railway has undertaken a project to construct a double line from Kamalapur to Narayanganj. The Padma Bridge Rail Link also falls on this route. Therefore, the route of MRT Line-4 was changed.

Meanwhile, the years-old Sayedabad bus terminal would need to be shifted from its original location for the implementation of the MRT Line-6 project on the changed route. In that case, the bus terminal will be moved to Madanpur. The depot of MRT Line-4 will also be constructed in Madanpur.

The MRT Line-6 is the first ever metro rail service in the country. The route of line-6 stretches from Uttara to Kamalapur via Agargaon. The Uttara-Agargaon section of the service was inaugurated on 28 December, 2022. While the route from Agargaon to Motijheel is expected to be launched by the end of this year, the entire route will be launched by 2025, according to the DMTCL.
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The overall expenditure of 21.26-km metro rail service is Tk 334.71 billion. Of this, JICA is providing Tk 196.75 billion and the government have been bearing the rest of the expenditure.

The cost for the construction of 31-km long MRT Line-1 is estimated at Tk 519 billion. The JICA will provide a loan of Tk 338.14 billion for the project and the government will provide the rest of the required fund.

The MRT Line-5 will start from Hemayetpur in Savar and the last stoppage on this route will be Bhatara. JICA will provide a loan of Tk 307.6 billion for the implementation of this Tk 412.6 billion-project. The Bangladesh government will fund Tk 105.05 billion for this project. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has also become a part of this project.

* The report has been rewritten in English by Ashish Basu


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