The government initiative to launch operation of the Uttara to Agargaon metro rail in December this year has now become uncertain mainly because of the latest surge in the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Without observing the Covid-19 situation, it cannot be said for certain that the operation will kick off by 16 December," said MAN Siddique, managing director of the Dhaka Mass Transit Company Limited.
At a monthly virtual press conference on Thursday, he said, "7,000 people, including around 1,000 foreigners from different countries such as China, India, and Thailand, are working with us.
"So far, 518 people have tested positive for Covid-19. Of them, 48 got infected in the last seven days."
MAN Siddique said, "Despite the pandemic, construction work is going on in two shifts – day and night."
Some 83.82% work on the first part (Uttara-Agargaon) of the metro rail has been done. In another part, from Agargaon-Matijheel, 57% work has been completed so far.
Overall the Tk22,000 crore MRT-6 Project from Abdullahpur to Matijheel has had 62% progress in its 20.10 kilometre route.
"We will complete our work before the scheduled time in 2024," said the managing director of the Dhaka Mass Transit Company Limited (DMTCL).
"Designing is underway for the extension of MRT-6 from Matijheel to Kamalapur," he added.
"We cannot make any promise to the people regarding the early commissioning of the first part of the MRT-6 because it might not be kept," MAN Siddique said, talking of the Covid-19 situation at home and abroad.
The DMTCL will submit a report regarding setting the MRT-6 fare to the fare selection committee formed by the government.
MAN Siddique said, "The committee wanted some information from us. Of them, some issues are technical and others are of a general nature. We expect to submit a report to the committee this month. There are technical issues and comparison with other countries also has to be considered."
Seven kilometres of rail tracks
The installation of the seven-kilometre rail track has already been completed. Now electric and mechanical work is going on and construction of side walls on both sides of the viaduct is also underway.
A total of 13.80 kilometres of the viaduct has been installed so far. The rail track installation inside the depot has also been completed, MAN Siddique said at the press conference.
The rail set of the first shipment is in Mongla port now. After the completion of customs formalities, the rail set will arrive at the depot on 23 April, said the managing director of DMTCL.
Meanwhile, the basic and detailed design work are both underway for the MRT-5 northern route.
MRT-1 Project Director Saidul Haque said the construction of MRT-1 has been divided into 12 packages.
The designing will be completed and tenders for one or two packages can be opened in June, he added.