Donors convinced of its need
The government has planned to set up a railway line from Dhaka to Jessore through Padma Bridge aimed at easing the country’s transport facilities and ‘establishing communications network with neighbouring India’, officials said Wednesday.
Communications ministry officials said based on the donors’ suggestions, the government would undertake the project, which has the possibility to connect ‘regional railway network’ within the sub-continent.
“We will appoint a consulting firm to conduct the feasibility study and prepare a detailed design for the proposed railway network,” a communications ministry official told the FE.
The Manila-based lender Asian Development Bank (ADB) would bankroll the scheme as it assured to provide US$ 4.50 million, he said requesting anonymity.
The official said: “We have planned to set up the railway link in order to steer the economic growth of the southwestern region after constructing the country’s largest bridge on the Padma.”
Southwestern land ports in Jessore do not have any developed railway network with Dhaka that raises the expenses for carrying goods, he said adding, “in the future we will be able to use the railway line for setting up regional transport links.”
The government has already undertaken the US$ 2.40 billion 6.15-kilometre road-cum-railway bridge across the river Padma at Mawa-Janjira points to connect the impoverished southwestern region with the developed central Dhaka.
A finance ministry official said four major donors earlier have suggested constructing a separate railway bridge on the river Padma, scarpping the present rail line in the plan of Padma Bridge that will connect the southwestern region with the capital. “Additional rail on the bridge may be deferred to a later stage when an inter-regional linking rail network will be constructed,” said the major donors World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB), Japan, and Islamic Development Bank (IDB) after an assessment.
A communications ministry official said the donors, especially the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), have strongly opposed building a railway track on the proposed rail-cum-road bridge due to the absence of a properly developed rail network between Dhaka and Jessore.
JICA in the report said unless strongly justified and based on the economic and social returns, the additional rail facility on the bridge may be deferred to a later stage when a linking network will be constructed, said the official.
The communications ministry official said the donors were later convinced of the government’s position and assured of building the railway network.
The communications ministry official said, “as the donors suggested linking Jessore with the capital city of Dhaka through the Padma Bridge, we have plan to set up the sophisticated Dhaka-Bhanga-Jessore rail network.