Japan pledges $2.1 bln for metro rail

Japan has made about $ 2.1 billion aid commitment for the Mass Rapid Transit Development (MRT) project aimed at easing the Dhaka’s nagging traffic gridlock.
“The total cost of the project is $2.7 billion and Japan will provide us $2.1 billion,” Finance Minister AMA Muhtih said at a press briefing after meeting with Japanese Ambassador Shiro Sadoshima at his office on Sunday.
The proposed 20.1-km MRT (metro rail) Line-6 project also includes the much-hyped metro rail which will start from Uttara and end at Motijheel via Mirpur-Farmgate.
Japan International Cooperation Agency – Tokyo’s lending arm – has completed the feasibility study to implement the MRT project at a cost of about Tk 22,000 crore.
Once in operation, MRT will transport some 60,000 passengers from the both sides per hour.
“It is a very good news for us because of the difficulties we have been going through on so many aspects particularly the Padma (bridge project),” the minister said.
Japan would give $133 million this year and complete the funding in 2017.
“The commitment is five times higher than the one Japan made for Padma bridge,” Muhith said.
“Dhaka has a huge traffic jam problem and the project will reduce that. (MRT project) will carry people, not any transport. Flyover is for transports but this is for people.”
The agreement may be signed any day and the work would probably start this financial year, the minister hoped.
About Japanese investment and trade, he said: “It is growing.”
“We have to do more to bring in more Japanese investment and we have taken some measures.”
Japan has been the largest bilateral donor for the last 36 years.
Japan will also provide about $700 million for Bheramara Combined Cycle Power Plant and National Power Transmission Network.
Bheramara project would get $467 million while National Transmission $238, the minister told journalists.
About the power projects, he said now the country was facing problems in power transmission and distribution.
There is another project for health sector and Tokyo provided $100 million for it, he added.
Ambassador Sadoshima said his government had finalised the 33rd yen loan package.
“It is approximately 70 billion yen and I came here to tell your government to prepare yourself as the final commitment process is closer,” he said.
The package is 30 percent more than the last one and it represents Tokyo’s commitment to work to together with Bangladesh for further development, officials said.

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