An inter-ministerial committee has selected eight big projects involving an overall estimated cost of around $ 11 billion to be implemented with probable Chinese assistance to improve the country’s railway network. “The Economic Relations Division (ERD) has recently received a list of eight large projects to start negotiations with Beijing for concessional loan for implementing those,” an ERD official told UNB.
He said Chinese charge d’ affaires in Dhaka Qu Guan Zhou at a meeting with senior government officials at the Prime Minister’s Office on January 14, 2015 said China was interested to invest $15 billion to $20 billion in Bangladesh’s rail sector. Following the offer, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) formed a three-member committee, headed by additional Railways Secretary Shashi Kumar Singha. Its members are one joint chief from the Planning Commission and another Deputy Secretary from the ERD.
The eight railway sector priority projects to be implemented with Chinese assistance worth $10.84 billion include Padma Bridge Rail link Project Phase-1 (Dhaka-Maowa-Bhanga) involving $ 2,225.12 million, Padma Bridge Rail Link Project Phase-2 (Bhanga-Jessore) with $ 1,146.47 million, construction of single-line dual gauge railway track from Dohazari to Cox’s Bazar via Ramu and Ramu to Gundum near Myanmar with $ 1,808 million, construction of double track standard gauge railway line from Dhaka to Chittagong via Comilla/Laksam with $ 3,968 million.
The four other proposed projects are construction of double line (dual gauge) between Joydevpur-Ishwardi section at a cost of $ 897 million, construction of a DG track parallel to the existing MG line in Joydevpur-Mymensingh section at $ 331 million, construction of a modern railway workshop at Rajbari project with $ 200 million and procurement of 30 set BG DEMU and 200 BG coaches project with $ 265 million.
Another official at the ERD said the government is set to send a proposal to the Chinese Embassy in Dhaka seeking soft loan for the Padma Bridge Rail Link (Phase-1) and Padma Bridge Rail Link (Phase-2) project following the approval of the Preliminary Development Project Proforma (PDPP) by the Planning Commission.
Out of the total estimated cost of $ 2,225.12 million for the Padma Bridge Rail Link (Phase-1) project, the government is expected to provide $ 566.55 million while the rest of $ 1,658.57 million as confessional loan from China or any other donor countries and agencies. The proposed Phase-1 of the project is expected to be completed by June 2022 under which some 107.8 km railway track, including some 82.32 km new broad gauge single line railway track would be set up from Dhaka-Bhanga-Faridpur via Padma Multipurpose Bridge project.
Besides, out of the estimated cost of $ 1,146.47 million for the Padma Bridge Rail Link (Phase-2) project, the government is expected to provide $ 229.29 million while the rest of $ 917.18 million is expected to come as project assistance from China or any other donor countries or agencies. Under the phase-2, some 123.10 km railway track, including 96 kilometer new broad gauge single line railway track from Bhanga junction to Jessore, would be set up.