The Dhaka metro rail company has planned to start construction of the MRT-6 extension from Motijheel to Kamalapur Railway Station by next month although the complexities over the project are yet to be resolved.
Officials said the Dhaka Mass Transit Company Limited (DMTCL) has taken the decision based on the approval given recently by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) to construct the elevated track of the Mass Rapid Transit Line-6 (MRT-6) in front of the Kamalapur Station building.
Bangladesh Railway (BR) had earlier expressed their reservation on the use of the station's front side by any of the authorities of the transport projects, including MRT-6.
The BR has been working on establishing a Multimodal Transport Hub (MMTH) in the area under a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) initiative with support from the Japanese government since 2018.
But criticism sparked over the issue after Railway Minister Mohammad Nurul Islam Sujon told journalists after a coordination meeting of BR that the iconic Kamalapur station building may be demolished to allow the MRT-6 project extension.
Representatives from both DMTCL and Kajima Corporation, the Japanese investor of an estimated US$ 50 billion MMTH project, also attended the meeting.
DMTCL managing director MAN Siddique said the DMTCL has already completed the topographical survey on the extension of 1.16-kilometre of MRT-6 from Motijheel to Kamalapur and the social survey is now at its final stage.
Detailed design work on the extension is now going on, he said, disclosing their plan to start construction by January next.
When asked about the possibility to demolish the historical Kamalapur station building, the MD emphasised that the matter would be decided by the BR. "We do not have any link with the matter. We will look into what decision the government has given for us. We are proceeding with the government's decision," he told the FE over phone.
However, the BR sources said the construction of the MRT-6 extension cannot be started without the BR's approval. They said the BR has no reservation on the MRT-6 extension, but it must be done in coordination with the MMTH project.
BR director general Mohammad Shamsuzza-man said that as Japan is involved with both the MRT and MMTH projects, it would now be settled at the government level.
He said that they were expecting a solution from the Japan International Cooperation Agency and the Japanese Ambassador as they are also holding meetings with all concerned.
The DMTCL first planned to link the JICA-funded MRT-6 project with Kamalapur Station from Motijheel to allow its thousands of passengers the transit option from the MMTH.
But due to reservation of the BR, the Japanese company also planned to turn the metro rail in elevated way around the station and keeping a distance without linking with the Kamalapur station. But the BR raised an objection that it would also block the front view of the MMTH's entire compound.
Kajima Corporation has been selected by the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport during the Bangladesh-Japan Joint Platform meeting to work on the G-to-G PPP modality.