JICA wants all procedure to be completed by next month
The communications ministry is facing an uphill task to make progress in the proposed metro rail as the air force again refused to give clearance for the mega transport project worth US$ 1.7 billion.
Officials of the ministry said the air force under the ministry of defence has been showing reservation about the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) funded project that has been planned to ease chaotic traffic situation in the capital Dhaka.
The force raised its objection again at a review meeting held last Thursday at the Secretariat.
Communications Minister Syed Abul Hossain presided over the meeting which was arranged to get consent from the defence force. But the meeting ended without any fruitful outcome.
The JICA representatives who attended the meeting said the clearance by the ministries for the project should be given by next August. They urged the communications ministry officials to maintain coordination among other state-owned agencies to pave the way for signing the final contract between the government of Bangladesh and the organisation.
The communications minister, however, ruled out any major setback for the project despite repeated refusal by the air force which pointed out that routes of the proposed metro rail at Bijoy Sarani and Bangabandhu Novo Theatre would cause technical problem for the nearby old airport, still being used for emergency cases.
“The project is on despite the odds,” said Abul Hossain while talking to daily sun on Monday.
He said his ministry would arrange another review meeting soon to overcome the clearance problem. Finance Minister AMA Muhith is likely to hold another meeting to make process in signing the contract, he added.
Establishment of metro rail has been given second priority in the Strategic Transport Plan prepared in 2005 to solve the transport problems in Dhaka.
Transport experts hailed JICA after it showed willingness to fund the 21-kilometre elevated railway as insufficient road space in the capital is making movement of growing automobiles extremely difficult.
More than 60 vehicles, especially private cars, are hitting the city streets every day in the absence of mass transports.
Severe traffic congestion at major city points like Jatrabari, Motijheel, Paltan, Shahbagh, Farmgate, Banai, Dhanmondi, Gulshan and Baridhara becomes a common phenomenon as there is only eight percent road space in the city instead of the required 25 percent.
The route of the rail line which will start from Uttara and travel through Shahjalal Airport, Banani, Farmgate, Banglamotor, Shahbagh, Doyel Chattar, Topkhana, Motijheel, Kamalapur before ending at Sayedabad has already been approved in last March.
But before the approval of the cabinet led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina the government was forced to bring about changes in the route alignment because of reservation by Dhaka University.
-With Daily Sun input