A joint venture of Japan's Tokyu Construction and local Max Infrastructure will work on the land development of the MRT Line-1 project depot area in the capital.
The Dhaka Mass Transit Company Limited (DMTCL) is set to sign an agreement worth Tk607 crore in this regard with the consortium in the capital on Wednesday.
The final approval for the construction of 16.21 kilometre underground from the Airport Road to Kamalapur and the 11.36km Elevated Metro Rail from Natun Bazar to Purbachal was given in October 2019.
The work of the country's first underground metro rail under the agreement is going to start next month.
DMTCL officials said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will inaugurate the construction of the new metro rail before the commercial operations begin.
Aside from building six metro railways in Dhaka to alleviate traffic congestion, the government is also working to introduce a similar public transport service in the port city of Chattogram.
At the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) meeting on Tuesday, which was chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the Transport Masterplan and Preliminary Feasibility Study for Urban Metro Rail Transit Construction of Chattogram project was also approved at a cost of Tk70.63 crore.
According to DMTCL sources, the construction cost of the total 31.2km – both the elevated and underground metro rails – for the MRT Line-1 is estimated at Tk52,561.43 crore. It is set to be completed by 2026.
Sources also said 92.97 acres of land has been acquired in Rupganj's Pitolganj and Brahmankhali areas at Tk878 crore for the depot work.
They also said the entire land is eligible to be transferred to the contractor.
Officials said the land acquisition for exit and entry points at three stations at Nodda, Natun Bazar and North Badda and also for a substation have been completed.
Earlier, a Japanese firm-led consortium of eight companies was recruited as construction supervision consultant.
The line will have 21 stations – 12 underground and nine elevated. Besides, 25 sets of trains having eight coaches each will operate daily on the line. The maximum capacity of a train will be 3,088 persons.
According to the officials, it will take only 34 minutes to commute from Dhaka airport to Kamalapur, 20 minutes from Natun Bazar to Purbachal, and 35 minutes from Kamalapur to Purbachal.
The trains will be controlled remotely from the Operation Control Centre. Elevators, stairs and escalators will be installed in underground and alleviated stations for the passengers to access rail platforms easily.
According to officials, around 8 lakh passengers will be able to travel every day by the underground metro after the inauguration in 2028. With all the six metro rails in operation by 2030, more than 50 lakh passengers will be able to commute daily using the modern transport system.
Next stop, the port city
Ecnec approved the Transport Masterplan and Preliminary Feasibility Study for the Urban Metro Rail Transit Construction in Chattogram with the aim of launching metro rail services in the city and neighbouring upazilas.
The study has been estimated at Tk70.63 crore for the period till March 2025, of which the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) will provide assistance of Tk57 crore.
After the meeting, Satyajit Karmaker, a member of the Physical Infrastructure Division of the Planning Commission, said although there was a proposal for a preliminary survey of metro only in Chattogram city, it was decided that there would be an assessment of whether the metro rail can be started in nearby upazilas including Sitakunda and Patia.
Besides, an integrated plan will be made for the port city and neighbouring areas under the project, he said.
He also said when the preliminary feasibility study is completed in March 2025, the main feasibility study will be done.
If this work is completed within two years, construction of the metro rail could begin between 2027 and 2030.
The project is being implemented by the Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA).
According to the project proposal, four million people live in Chattogram, the second largest city in the country. It is the commercial capital owing to the expansion of industries and trade. The city is also currently plagued with traffic.
The Chittagong City Corporation, Chittagong Development Authority and Chittagong Port have taken various activities for the development of the transport system of the city and its surroundings, but due to lack of integrated planning, the projects taken separately have not been effective in reducing the public suffering.
Meanwhile, Planning Minister MA Mannan gave a summary of the approved projects at a post-ECNEC press conference. He said that a total of eight projects were approved at a cost of Tk 4,826 crore in the meeting. Among those, three are revised projects.