Some problems, including the ones in the bidding process, are likely cause substantial delays in launching of the much-publicised metro rail.
Project sources said commercial launching of mass rapid transit line-6 (MRT-6) will not be possible by the end of 2019 as the project will get the first set of train by December 2020.
Besides, the delay in awarding electrical and mechanical (E&M) system development work has held up the process of making the rolling stock and other necessary facilities for MRT ready before 2021, they added.
"If the E&M system tender could have been awarded now, the launching of the metro rail would be possible by the end of 2021," said an expert involved with the project. Any further delay in awarding contract would also defer the launching of the project.
Sources said the Japanese joint venture company which got the work of rolling stock for MRT-6 will deliver 24 sets of trains, one each in every month from December 2021.
But it would not be possible to make these sets of trains ready as well as build stations and elevated MRT track in stipulated time due to a delay in awarding E&M system development work under the contract package-7.
According to the project office, CP-7 is a multidisciplinary work and will be awarded for 54 months.
It is learnt that out of four pre-qualified firms for CP-7, only one firm submitted technical proposal on the last day of closing of request for proposal. RFP was called on May 26, 2016.
Though a single proposal is supposed to be considered not responsive, sources said, the project office has been trying to negotiate with the lone firm for declaring it responsive to avoid complication in opening fresh bid.
"Among all works, E&M system development is complicated one and involves seven multidisciplinary works.
So, time is taken to meet different queries of the project office," said an official concerned.
He, however, said Public Procurement Rules (PPR) allow participation of a single firm in special cases, adding that after completion of the technical evaluation, the financial proposal will be opened.
To date, the Dhaka Mass Rapid Transit Development (DMRTD) project office completed the biddings for five contract packages out of eight. Apart from CP-7, award of CP-5 and 6 is yet to be completed.
But the delay in the last two packages would not hamper the process of launching metro rail as those are related to developing the elevated structure of MRT-6 from Agargaon to Motijheel which will be in the 2nd phase of the project.
However, the expert said amid all the delays, the trial run of the train might be possible by 2021 that too if the E&M system work is awarded by this year. That might help the supplier concerned make available at least a few sets of trains by that time.
After several months of trial run, the expert said, commercial run of the MRT-6 will start.
According to the original Development Project Proposal of DMRTD and general consultant's set schedule, the commercial launching was supposed to begin by 2021.
But the project office proposed expediting the work and launching the first phase of the metro rail by 2019, taking the next general election into account.
The MRT-6 has been implemented under a project of Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority under the Ministry of Road Transport and Bridges. Japan International Cooperation Agency has been providing all technical and financial support amounting to Tk 219.85 billion.