The government is going to construct two new metro rail systems in Dhaka at a cost of over Tk1,830 crore per kilometre – twice that of the ongoing MRT Line-6 project.
Moreover, the 51km systems will also cost three to six times more than the price of constructing mass rapid transit systems in India.
Proposals for the two projects, costing an estimated Tk93,800 crore, are going to be presented on Tuesday at the meeting of the Executive Committee of National Economic Council for approval.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency will provide 73 percent of the total expenses for the two projects – the 20km MRT Line 5 North and the 31km MRT Line 1.
The per kilometre cost for the ongoing 20.1km metro rail from Uttara to Motijheel is around Tk1,094 crore.
However, in India, per kilometre cost between Tk415 crore to Tk500 crore.
According to a recent study by the Dhaka Mass Rapid Transit Company Limited – the implementing agency of the metro rail projects – construction costs in Bangladesh are much higher than that in India.
The report stated that construction of each kilometre of the 72km metro rail (second phase) in Bangalore, India required an amount equivalent to Tk540 crore, while the 12km Jaipur metro rail cost around Tk346 crore.
When asked, Md Sayedul Haque, the project director for MRT Line 1, denied to comment over the higher construction costs in metro rail projects.
Dr Zahid Hussain, former lead economist of the World Bank, said the first metro rail project is moving at a snail's pace, adding, "The authorities concerned should think about problems in implementation of this project before taking up new projects."
However, Shamsul Hoque, professor at the Department of Civil Engineering from the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, said the context of Bangladesh and India are different.
"India is well ahead of Bangladesh in completing preliminary works, such as land acquisition," he said, adding, "India is already quite experienced in this sector as they have completed several metro rail projects in different states."
Details about the two projects
The 20km MRT Line 5 North will be constructed from Hemayetpur in Savar to Bhatara in the capital via Aminbazar, Gabtoli, Mirpur-1, Mirpur-10, Mirpur-14, Kochukhet, Banani and Gulshan-2.
Scheduled to be completed by December 2028, the project will be constructed at an estimated cost of over Tk41,238 crore, of which Tk29,111 crore will come from Jica.
The 20km metro rail will incorporate a 13km underground line and a 6km elevated line. The project also includes buying 198 coaches for the metro rail.
The MRT Line 1 will be built at a proposed cost of over Tk52,561 crore, of which Jica will provide over Tk39,450 crore.
The metro rail, to be completed by December 2026, will stretch to over 31km from the capital's Airport Road to Kamlapur and from Natun Bazar to Purbachal.
The project includes a 20km underground line and over 11km of elevated line.