The first step to embark on a metro rail in the country's second-largest city of Chattogram begins through doing the feasibility of the mass-transit system shortly.
On Thursday, the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) came forward with a $6.0-million grant for a study and the making of a city transport master plan.
KOICA, Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA), and the Ministry of Road Transport and Bridges agreed to launch a two-year project on the master plan and a preliminary study on the proposed mass transit system.
KOICA Bangladesh country director Doh Young-ah, Road Transport and Highways Division secretary ABM Amin Ullah Nuri and ERD additional secretary Md Shahriar Kader Siddiky signed a deal to this end.
Economic Relations Division (ERD) secretary Sharifa Khan and Korean ambassador in Dhaka Lee Jang-keun were present at the agreement-signing ceremony.
The DTCA under the Roads Transport and Highways Division will implement the project.
Under the project, the DTCA will prepare a master plan for Chattogram metropolitan area, conduct a pre-feasibility study and preliminary concept design for the MRT, and enhance the DTCA's institutional capacity for establishing an efficient transport system.
When asked about Korean investment plan, Mr Lee said: "Based on the feasibility study, Seoul will think about its investment. Maybe the public sector or private companies of Korea will be interested in the MRT projects in Chattogram."
He urged the Bangladesh government to find out co-financers too for investing in the future MRT projects in the port city.
"Korea has long viewed Bangladesh as a trusted partner and is willing to assist in a variety of development areas, including transport, governance and others."
Ms Doh said, "I really hope that through this comprehensive cooperation from the Republic of Korea, Bangladesh will be able to improve traffic safety and the environment by offering eco-friendly, convenient and fast public transportation services…"
In addition, the master plan will build a road management system that will minimise travel time and the number of road accidents, resulting in the much-needed improvement of the country's road conditions.
Furthermore, the project will solve current challenges and make positive contributions to the Mass transit sector in Bangladesh, said the KOICA country chief.
Secretary Sharifa hoped that Korea would come forward with increased financial support for Bangladesh.
She requested the envoy to help Bangladesh get market access to Korea and possible trade cooperation for enhancing business between the two countries.
KOICA is currently implementing more than 10 development projects in the areas, including education (skills development), transportation, public health and ICT (innovation) with $15-million grants per annum.
In skills development area, KOICA is working with the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET) to promote demand-driven competency-based skills training.
In the public health area, the organisation is working together with health ministry to establish eye health care units, and improving maternal and child health.
In the ICT area, KOICA is supporting ICT Division for developing e-Government Master Plan. In addition, KOICA is supporting the Department of Narcotics Control (DNC), and Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defence (FSCD) for developing IT-based management and re-engineering their business process.