The board members of Bangladesh Bridge Authority (BBA) have proposed to go slow with the plan to develop a subway network in Dhaka city, aiming to relieve the commuters of construction-related hazards.
Their stance on the issue came at the BBA's board meeting at Setu Bhaban on Wednesday as a proposal to form a subway company under the BBA was tabled at the meeting, with Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader in the chair.
The BBA has recently completed the feasibility study on developing a 258-kilometre underground subway network to ease the city's traffic congestion. The plan is to bring most city areas under a fast transportation system.
The first phase of the proposed network with a 127km stretch under four routes has been planned to complete by 2030 with an estimated cost of US$ 8.0 billion.
However, the initiative has been criticised since the beginning as it is not the BBA's rules of business, and that a dedicated company, the Dhaka Mass Transit Company Limited (DMTCL), has been working to set up a similar mass transit system by 2030.
Meeting sources said the members preferred observing first the metro rail or Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) development work as four MRT lines are already at different stages of implementation.
They also pointed out the pains being felt by the commuters due to the ongoing construction of these kinds of transport projects. They said the DMTCL has by now made good progress in development of the MRT line 6 and its first phase is planned to be launched in December next.
The MRT-1, MRT-5 North and MRT-5 South are at their designing and tendering stages. Construction of the projects is expected to start within a year or two.
The board meeting was attended, among others, by senior secretaries and secretaries of the Energy and Mineral Resources Division, Road Transport and Highways Division, Power Division, Legislative and Parliamentary Affairs Division, Land Ministry, Railways Ministry and Bridge Division.
Finance Division Secretary and Economic Relations Division Secretaries joined the meeting virtually.
The BBA officials also placed another proposal at the meeting to amend the BBA Act 2016 for incorporating several issues like formation of the subway company under its rules of business.
However, experts observed that the transport sector is already heavily invested with more than US$20 billion projects.
Recently, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has also asked the authorities concerned to think more about developing the proposed high-speed train line, after completion of the feasibility study, due to involvement of more than $11 billion.
The meeting apprised the board members of the overall implementation status of mega projects under the BBA, including Padma Bridge and Karnaphuli Tunnel.
Other issues discussed at the meeting included introducing an electronic toll collection system on the fast-track lane of Jamuna Bangabandhu Bridge, selection of operators for toll collection and operation and maintenance of Padma Bridge, and formation of Padma Bridge O&M company.