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Loan accord with Japan on metro-rail this month
DHAKA, March 04 (BSS) - The communication ministry has taken all preparations to ink a loan agreement with Japan in last week of this month for constructing much-talked about ground "metro rail" to ease the capital's gridlock.

"We have taken all preparations . We are 100 percent hopeful
to sign the agreement any day after the Independence Day,"
Executive Director of Dhaka Transport Coordination Board (DTCB)
Dr S M Salehuddin told BSS today.

He said the estimated project cost is US 2.7 billion dollars
and the Japan government has pledged to provide 80 percent as a
soft loan through Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

The loan would consist of 0.01 percent interest rate in terms
of repayment within 40 years along with 10 years grace period, he

Dr Saleuddin said the assurance of funding came after JICA
signed the minuets of discussion (MoD) with ERD, DTCB, Roads
Division of the Communications Ministry on December 22, 2011.

However, while contacted, Senior Programme Manager of JICA
Suman Das Gupta declined to make any assurance of signing loan
agreement this month.

"At the moment, we can't say that we will sign agreement by
this month, what we can say is that JICA is positively discussing
the matters with government of Bangladesh," he said. Gupta said
JICA is observing the government's efforts in various issues
including acquisition of lands to build the depot for the metro
rail in Uttara and formation of proposed Dhaka Mass Transit
Company (DMTC) for taking holistic approach to ease traffic
congestion in the capital.

After getting positive move from the Bangladesh government on
the issue, the Japan government will place the metro rail project
to its concerned ministry, he said adding after that we will
discuss about the modalities of the soft loan and go for the

About the land acquisition, Dr Salauddin said the
communications ministry is continuing discussion with RAJUK to
acquire the lands for the depot. "We are confident to start the
process of land acquisition in due time," he said.

The depot requires 22 hectares of land and that would be
acquired by the RAJUK from private owners at Uttara Third Phase.
DTCB would spend Tk 1,382 crore for the land acquisition.

The government has already finalized the route of 20-km metro
rail with 15 stations from Uttara 3rd phase to Bangladesh Bank in
Motijheel via Pallabi-Rokyea Sarani-Khamar Bari-Farmgate-
Shahbag- Doel Chattar-Topkhana road.

"We expect the construction work will begin by mid 2013, if
every thing is run smoothly and the service will be operative
from 2018 . . . to ferry 60,000-70,000 commuters an hour. During
the pick hour the trains will run in every five minutes,"
Salehuddin said.

DTCB under Communications ministry will implement the project
and the proposed DMTC will operate the metro rail.

The metro rail project was the second such major project to
face the traffic jam after the government last year signed a US
1.25 billion deal with Italian-Thai Public Development Company
Ltd to build an elevated 32 kilomtre expressway in three years in
the capital.

According to a Roads and Highways Department report the
traffic jam halts traffic movement in Dhaka city for 7.5 hours
everyday causing economic losses only in terms of fuel cost worth
Taka 10,000 crore annually, an amount which is one-third of the
country's annual development expenditure.
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