Dual-Gauge Rail Bridge
Potentials For Northern Economy
Wares Ali Khan :
Construction of 4.8 km long double-line dual-gauge Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Railway Bridge over the Jamuna River was inaugurated at the end of 2020. The project is scheduled to be completed by 2025 and expected to be the largest dedicated railway bridge in the country. The bridge aims at boosting the railway communication between the capital and Western zone and thus will improve railway capacity between Dhaka and the country's northwestern regions.
As a part of the main project, a 7.6 km long double-line railway approach embankment, the erection of 30.73 km dual-gauge railway track, construction of 16 viaducts will be built. Additionally, both stations of the East and West parts of the Bangabandhu Bridge and yards will be renovated and redesigned. The under construction railway bridge will be capable of running trains at a speed of 120 km/h on broad gauge line and 100 km/h on meter gauge track. A total of 88 trains will be able to commute in a single day. The JICA and the government of Bangladesh will jointly finance the estimated total cost of 167.81 billion Bangladeshi currency and construction of the main bridge will be accomplished in two packages.
Under various massive development programs the Government of Bangladesh is developing, modernizing and diversifying the transportation and communication network of the whole country so that it can bestow a lot in heightening the socio-economic condition of the people. As an integral part of monumental expansion in the railway sector, procuring new locomotives and compartments has also been annexed. As railways serve people in a greater content, the authorities concerned are working to establish a strong rail network across the country for rendering cost-effective transportation to people and goods which will surely convey robust changes to our economy.
The bridge will enlarge regional rail connectivity by allowing Bangladesh Railway to operate more trains between the capital and the country's northwestern regions. Incidentally it will shrink the pressure on roads bound to Dhaka from different directions of the northern districts, and thus will scale down the possible rate of accidents on the highways. It has been noticed that overburdened vehicles and messed-up highways usually confront frequent accidents.
Northwestern region of the country is mainly an agricultural zone and most of the country's sugar and jute mills are located here. By the way, various types of agro-crops, green vegetables, and milk are the main money generating goods there. The opportunity of easy and inexpensive transportation will determine more economic benefits to the people dependent largely in agriculture. They will avail the access of sending out their grown products to Dhaka and get fair price of their hard-harvested crops, and the opportunity seekers and middlemen as well will no longer be able to consume the essence earned through the hardship of the peasants.
Farmers of the northern regions will get positive incentives to cultivate variant crops and transport them in the capital which will optimize the benefits of the farmers and the dwellers of the capital will get green, fresh vegetables including other agro-products within their reach. Vegetables are perishable goods. On top of that, if transportation cost and time require somewhat extra, then the farmers would not be willing anymore to ship more products in the capital. In this aspect, Bangabandhu Railway Bridge will reduce the transportation cost and time simultaneously which will significantly boost the agro-based rural economy of the northern parts of Bangladesh.
It is clear to us that no notable industrial-setup is visible in the northern regions. To keep the pace in the path of balanced development, planned industrialization is highly sought also in the northern parts. Hopefully, this under construction novel mega project will facilitate the expansion of mills and industries in the northern districts as it will markedly bridge the gap between distance and cost. Therefore, a masterplan based on projected industrialization through pragmatic initiative is highly expectable.
It is an open secret that, by and large, we lack the technical and management strength to handle such mega projects successfully. So, the estimated cost and implementation duration of this mega project should be exceeded in no way. The mother design should remain unchanged till the end of the project. It has been noticed that very often design correction and mismanagement lead to an escalation of price, and implementation time lag of the project. So, appropriate and precautionary measures must be adopted in this regard. No irregularity is expected in this connection.
Transportation and communication, indeed, can play a pivotal role in revitalizing the economy of any region. The under construction mega project- 'Bangabangdu Railway Bridge' will augment the economic access of the people living in the northern regions by ensuring ever better and cost-effective train journey and goods carriage amidst the available modes of communication in those northern districts. In this regard, we expect this ever-longest railway bridge will be a beacon of hope for the community who are economically back-footed and frustrated for a long time. Therefore, the completion of the construction work is anticipated to be finished within the scheduled time being limited within its projected cost.
(Mr. Khan is a teaching professional
and academic coordinator).