The Financial Express

Metro rail in Chattogram

| Updated: January 11, 2022 22:05:08

An electric metro-rail train is about to reach the Pallabi Station at Mirpur in the city as part of its test run on August 29 last year. — FE file photo An electric metro-rail train is about to reach the Pallabi Station at Mirpur in the city as part of its test run on August 29 last year. — FE file photo

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's vision of a metro rail network in the port city of Chattogram comes as no surprise. Given her government's development spree, especially in the communication and connectivity sector, the focus had been long expected. In this case, the premier has clearly expressed her personal interest to see that Chattogram metropolis has a metro rail network in place. She expressed her desire at the meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) on January 4 last. To quote Planning Minister MA Mannan, the Prime Minister has said the metro rail should not be limited to Dhaka only. It has also to be built in Chattogram. She has also added that it can even be constructed in the big towns if needed. The project was proposed obviously to ensure a smooth urban communication system in Chattogram and other busy cities.

As the Prime Minister has directed the port city authorities to open its metro route connecting Shah Amanat International Airport with Chattogram Railway Station, its great impact throughout the gridlocked city can be visualised. According to the Planning Minister, the government will instruct the Chattogram City Corporation to build the metro facility. Chattogram's experience can be handy to introduce the system to other large cities beset with traffic snarl-ups. The Planning Ministry is expected to implement the projects. That the viaduct-based overhead metro rail would comprise a major segment of commuting in the big cities is well demonstrated in the capital Dhaka. In a couple of years, Dhaka is expected to see the full operation of its 21-kilometre metro rail trips between Uttara and Motijheel.

Experiment after experiment coupled with overhaul of traffic routes and stringent enforcement of dos and don'ts could do little to bring relief to the Dhaka dwellers. The MRT-6 railway was finally seen as the only way out. In the case of Chattogram, a similar spectacle could be expected --- albeit on a smaller scale. In spite of its different topography and urban practices, the port city has long echoed Dhaka. Beginning from urban chaos, reckless and defiant traffic movement, road accidents, urban crime and violence to water-logging and worsening air pollution --- Chattogram is growing as a 'twin city' of Dhaka. The country's city planners with vision, and of all persons the Prime Minister, could foresee the possible way out. Realisation of the PM's dream of a Chattogram free of traffic gridlock and the tormenting waits of commuters on way to destinations can catapult not only the port city's business but also the country's economy on a higher trajectory.

The successful execution of the project now rests with the field-level authorities. Although the higher policymaking body has decided to involve the city corporation in the task, scores of others are expected to get involved with the large project. As has been seen in Dhaka metropolis, dampers of work-plan clashes, overlapping of functions, changes in plan etc. may not be ruled out completely. These impediments to projects' implementation push the costs higher; chipping away at the public exchequer. These are least expected by the port city dwellers. They'll shatter their fond dream. 

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