PM opens country’s first metro rail

News Desk :

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has formally inaugurated the country’s first metro rail this morning.

She opened a section of the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) Line-6 by unveiling a plaque at the playground of Uttara sector-

The PM’s younger sister Sheikh Rehana waved to the audience after the plaque was unveiled.

Apart from PM, Sheikh Rehana; Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader, Rawshan Ara Mannan, chairman of parliamentary standing committee on road transport and bridges ministry; local AL MP Mohammad Habib Hasan, Road Transport and Highways Division Secretary ABM Amin Ullah Nuri, DMTCL Managing Director MAN Siddique; MRT Line-6 Project Director Aftab Uddin Talukder; new Japanese Ambassador to Dhaka Iwama Kiminori and JICA Chief Representative in Bangladesh Ichiguchi Tomohide took seats on the stage.

A special munajat was offered on the stage. 

ABM Amin Ullah Nuri delivered the first speech. He said the people of Dhaka suffered a lot during the construction of metro rail, and thanked the people of the city for their patience. 

MAN Siddique, managing director of Dhaka Mass Transit Company Limited, said that in Dhaka, vehicles can move at just six kilometres per hour, but that will improve once the MRT is launched. 

He said around five lakh people can travel on the metro rail every day, and it is environment-friendly as there will be no fossil fuel used to run it. 

There are all sorts of facilities for persons with disabilities on metro rail, he added. 

DMTCL is the implementing agency of the metro rail project. 

Ichiguchi Tomohide, chief representative in Bangladesh of the Japan International Cooperation Agency, started his speech in Bangla, saying good morning. 

“I am very pleased and honoured to be here,” he continued in Bangla, before switching to English to say, “Your dreams have come true. We will see the importance of the MRT 6 in the coming weeks and months. MRT will significantly transform the lives of the people of Dhaka. 

“MRT will contribute to making Bangladesh Smart Bangladesh.”

Iwama Kiminori, newly appointed Japanese ambassador to Bangladesh, also started in Bangla, saying good morning. He said he came to the country just 10 days ago and that the Bangladesh-Japan relationship is a long one, and he wants to make the relationship deeper.

“I will dedicate my work to bringing the relationship to a new height,” he said. 

“MRT will reduce traffic congestion and also air pollution in Dhaka. It will enable people to move quickly. It will have an impact on the behavioural change of the people. Women-only coaches will be introduced in Bangladesh. 

“I want to reiterate that Japan will continue to contribute in the development of Bangladesh,” the ambassador said.

A video was then shown consisting of aerial footage of metro rail.

At the end of the video, the theme song of the country’s first elevated metro rail, sung by famous folk singer Momtaz Begum MP, was played at the inauguration programme. 

Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader spoke next.

He said it was a day that the dream of the country’s people was fulfilled, adding that through this inauguration, another feather was added to the crown of Prime Minister Shiekh Hasina.

Quader, also general secretary of the ruling Awami League, said metro rail is no more a dream, but a reality.

Talking about the infrastructure development of the country, including the Padma Bridge, metro rail and Karnaphuli tunnel, the minister said everything was possible only because of the strong leadership of Sheikh Hasina.

“We have shown the World Bank … and we can say ‘yes we can!’ We are a nation of heroes, not a nation o f thieves.”

He said one coach would be exclusively reserved for women and freedom fighters would be able to to ride metro rail free of charge.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina then took the stage and highlighted the four milestones in the country’s development that the inauguration of metro rail has brought about.

The PM said that there is a metro rail in Bangladesh is in itself an achievement. 

Another milestone is that the trains will be run by electricity, making the project an environment friendly one. 

The trains can be run remotely, and that is a milestone in the path towards a Smart Bangladesh. 

It will also mark the advent of high-speed trains in Bangladesh, she said, adding that the trains can reach a speed of 110 kilometres per hour.

She said the first phase of the metro rail has been inaugurated, and the rest will be inaugurated soon. 

Hasina, also president of the ruling Awami League, said the party had pledged to reduce traffic congestion and had taken a number of steps to achieve that by 2030. 

We gave electoral pledges that to reduce traffic congestion, we have taken a number of steps and by 2030 it will be completed.

She requested the people who would ride the metro rail to protect it and keep it clean, which is the responsibility of the users.

“Everyone must be careful when riding metro rail. Everyone needs to care of it. I request everyone to do so,” she said. 

Initially, a 12km section, from Uttara to Agargaon, of the 21.26km MRT Line-6 has been opened. The line up to Motijheel will be inaugurated a year from now.

People will be able to avail the service for four hours from 8:00am tomorrow. They will get trains every 10 minutes, but it will eventually come down to every three and a half to four minutes.

The four-hour duration will also be increased gradually depending on how passengers get used to the service, according to officials concerned.

Only 200 people will take the journey today on the train that has a capacity of 2,308.

The fare for a ride from Uttara to Agargaon is Tk 60 while the minimum fare will be Tk 20.

The PM will be on the first official journey of metro rail today when she travels from Uttara North station to Agargaon. Other than that, there will be no metro rail service today.

A fully-fledged service on this part of the line is expected from March 26 next year.

Once in full service, MRT Line-6 will carry around 4.83 lakh people every day between Uttara and Motijheel. The trip will take 38 minutes, which takes at least two hours on other modes of transport.

The MRT Line-6 project was given the go-ahead in 2012 with a June 2024 deadline and a cost of Tk 21,985 crore. But the authorities went for early commissioning of the Uttara- Agargaon section considering public convenience.

The project was revised this year to extend the line to Kamalapur from Motijheel, and to procure land for some stations. The project cost went up to Tk 33,472 crore and the new deadline was set at 2025. Japan is providing about 60 percent of the cost as soft loan.

Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) are financers of the metro rail project.

– Input from The Daily Star was used in this article.

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