Prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday said her government would further strengthen rail communication throughout the country to ensure transportation of goods and people at a lower cost.
‘We will further strengthen rail communication. We have more plans to this end,’ she said while virtually laying the foundation stone of a separate dedicated 4.8km Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Railway Bridge over the Jamuna River from her official Ganabhaban residence in Dhaka.
The PM said her government had a plan to extend rail track to Payra Sea Port from Dhaka to Barishal and Patuakhali, adding that the survey on its feasibility study would start soon.
The government is also working to build a rail line from Dhaka to Cox’s Bazar via Chattogram, she further said.
‘That means, we want to build rail networks across the country to ensure transportation of goods at lower cost and ease the communication system for the people,’ she continued.
The prime minister said her government had been implementing massive programmes for the development of naval, air, rail and road communications so that the economy of the country becomes more vibrant in the days to come.
After laying the foundation stone of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Railway Bridge over Jamuna, Sheikh Hasina said, ‘Today, I am really very happy. Construction work of a separate railway bridge is going to start over the Jamuna River from today.’
The PM said that once the railway bridge was constructed, the country’s socio-economic advancement would surely take place alongside the development of regional and international connectivity that would help develop Bangladesh in future.
She added that building a separate railway bridge over the river Jamuna is solely needed as Sheikh Mujibur Rahman wanted to build Bangladesh a Switzerland of the East and make the country a bridge between the East and the West.
‘If we want to make Bangladesh a bridge between the East and the West, we have to get connected with the Trans Asian Railway and Trans Asian Highway,’ she said.
Once Bangladesh was connected with the Trans Asian communications networks, the importance of Bangladesh would increase and the overall socio-economic development would get further pace.
‘If the communication system is established, the economy becomes more vibrant and the people become economically solvent,’ she continued.
The PM said her government had not only initiated to construct Bangabandhu Railway Bridge over Jamuna, it also constructed separate bridges over the river Teesta alongside the bridges at Bhairab and Kalurghat.
‘In this way, we have been working to upgrade and modernise the communication system alongside making those multipurpose so that those can play a significant role in socio-economic advancement of the people,’ she added.
Mentioning that the World Bank earlier rejected her proposal of building railway lines on the Bangabandhu Multipurpose Bridge over the Jamuna River, terming it non-viable, she said that her decision later proved viable following the construction of the rail lines on the bridge and the global lender expressed its desire to build a railway bridge over the Jamuna.
‘The country is ours. So, we have to think how we can develop our country,’ she said.
The prime minister came down heavily on the BNP as they tried to stop the railway communication to give their men scope to do transportation business.
She said BNP had stopped many railway stations and gave ‘golden handshake’ to over 10,000 skilled workers of the railway as their move to stop the railway communication.
‘The then BNP government was almost going to strangulate the railway to death. After assuming office in 1996, we gave life to it. Now, people are depending on the railways the most,’ she added.
She praised the railway as it had been giving the highest service in case of transportation of goods and passengers during the coronavirus pandemic.
Describing Japan a true friend of Bangladesh, she said that Japan always extended its hand wholeheartedly to support the government’s efforts to ensure overall development of the country and hoped for its continued support in the days to come.
Railways minister Md Nurul Islam Sujan, MP, and ambassador of Japan to Bangladesh ITO Naoki spoke at the function from the Tangail and Ganabhaban ends respectively.
Commerce minister Tipu Munshi and local lawmakers were also present on the occasion.
PM’s principal secretary Ahmad Kaikaus moderated the function from the Ganabhaban end while secretary of railways ministry Md Salim Reza gave a welcome address.
Earlier, a video documentary on Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Railway Bridge was screened on the occasion.
According to the project details, contractors concerned have already started preliminary works of the bridge while construction of the main construction will started on Sunday.
The main bridge will be constructed under two packages. Two separate agreements have already been signed with Obayashi-TOA-JFE, Japan and IHI-SMCC JV, Japan for eastern and western part of civil works respectively.
As per the agreements, land was handed over to both the contractors in July. Through the new bridge, trains will be able to run at a speed of 120 kmph on broad gauge line and 100 kmph on meter gauge track. After the construction of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Railway Bridge, 88 trains will be able to run.
The project is scheduled to be completed by 2025.
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