Jatrabari flyover poses threat to Dhaka's metro rail project

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By Munima Sultana  www.thefinancialexpress-bd.com

Dhaka’s planned US$1.7 billion metro rail faces an uncertain future as the construction of the Gulistan-Jatrabari flyover has damaged the scope for executing the mass transport project, a study said.

According to an interim report by a Japanese team, the flyover would overlap with one third of the proposed 21.5 metro rail, making the implementation of the entire project “almost uncertain”.

“We are confused about the future of the metro rail as there is no coordination between the rail and the flyover projects,” said senior representative of Japanese International Cooperation Agency, Mayumi Endoh.

The JICA, which is carrying out the Dhaka Urban Transport Network Development Study (DHUTS), has already written to the communications ministry and top government officials about the danger being posed by the flyover.

“We told the DTCB that constructing the metro rail from Pallabi to Sayedabad through elevated way would face big problem as it overlaps with the entire Gulistan-Jatrabari flyover,” said a member of the team.

The Japanese team is working under the Dhaka Transport Coordination Board (DTCB) as part of JICA assistance to help the Bangladeshi capital get rid of its chronic traffic jams.

“We have already expressed our worry to the government agencies. But the Dhaka City Corporation, which is executing the fly-over, has so far failed to coordinate with the DTCB about the flyover,” the member said.

The Japanese team had earlier in November identified two major obstructions – four underpasses and an old Dhaka Museum – in implementing the metro rail.

Acting on the team’s findings, the communications minister directed the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) and DTCB to integrate the two projects so that both can be implemented without causing harm to each other.

The DCC has been implementing the Tk 13.5 billion Jatrabari-Gulistan flyover with six entry points to ease congestion in the southern parts of the capital. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the construction in June 2010.

JICA officials said they have sought detailed design and implementing schedule of the flyover project from the DCC. They alleged that no such document has been furnished yet.

JICA Chief Representative Takao Toda last month wrote to the advisor to the Prime Minister on economic affairs, Mashiur Rahman, expressing his concern at the potential conflict between the two projects.

The JICA chief also sought the advisor’s intervention to advise the concerned agencies to coordinate among themselves so that the proposed metro rail route remains undisturbed for its smooth implementation.

The DTCB and ministry officials said they held a number of coordination meetings with related agencies during the last couple of months and agreed to find out solution to the problem “technically”.

A DTCB official said as both the projects are important to improve the traffic jam situation in Dhaka, the government has directed the experts to find outsolution from an engineering point of view.