CHATTOGRAM: The construction work on setting up railway tracks on the under-construction Chattogram-Dohazari-Cox's Bazar-Gumdhum train route is going on in full swing, an official said.
Project Director (PD) of the multi-billion Taka rail line project Md Mofijur Rahman said 75 per cent work of the project was completed as of September 30 this year while the remaining 25 per cent will be done by June next.
Besides, the Bangladesh Railway (BR) has taken up a Tk 80 million project to renovate the decades-old Kalurghat Bridge on the Chattogram-Dohazari-Cox's Baxar rail route to facilitate uninterrupted running of trains on the route, the PD said.
He said, as part of the mega project, nine new rail stations have already been constructed on the new rail route to ensure fast and mooth movement of trains from the port city to the tourism town, he added.
BR and the local administration officials said, built in 1930 over Karnaphuli River, the 239-metre-long Kalurghat dual-purpose bridge has now become unfit for both train and road traffic.
They said since its inauguration about a century ago, the bridge till today has been playing a pivotal role in both rail and road communications between the port city and southern part of Chattogram district, and Cox's Bazar district.
"The only link between the southern regions of Chattogram on the bank of Karnaphuli with the rest of the country has now become dilapidated. The steel-structure bridge was built during the British era in 1930 for movement of trains between Janalihut and Gomdandi railway stations. The bridge was commissioned for operation of trains in Chattogram-Dohazari section of the rail route in 1931," they said.
Then, 31 years after its getting commission as a railway bridge and considering the sufferings of the local people, Kalurghat Bridge was modified with decking and carpeting and turned into a rail and road bridge in 1962, they also said.
"As the bridge has been massively used for 92 years by trains and other vehicles, it has become a rundown one. However, trains and vehicles, including bus, trucks and cars are still moving on the bridge with a high risk as the bridge can break down any day any time," they maintained.
So, the government has decided to repair it, first with the aim to mak it fit for rail and road traffic and then, with further improvement, turn it into a modern bridge making it usable for speedy trains on the Chattogram-Dohazari-Cox's Bazar rail route when the route will be commissioned within the next one or two years, the officials explained.
When contacted, a BR official said a team of experts from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) conducted a feasibility study on the proposed renovation of the bridge. The BUET team estimated that an amount of Tk 126.5 million (Tk 12.65 crore) will be required for the renovation work. But the BR authority reduced it to an amount of only Tk 80 million after holding multiple meetings with the BUET experts.
Project Director Mofijur Rahman said, "Around 75 per cent work of the project has been completed so far. But, we cannot complete all work of the project within the previously set scheduled time of 2022. So, we have sent a letter to the concerned ministry for extending the time to 2024. Now we can hope that the plea will be accepted and the Chattogram-Dohazari-Cox's Bazar-Ghumdum rail line project will be completed in 2023 and trains will run on the route in 2024," he added.