Dhaka eyes $11b from Beijing for railways


Bangladesh is going to seek US$10.83 billion as loan from China for development of the country’s railway sector, officials said.
Earlier on January 14, at a meeting with senior government officials, the Chinese charge d’ affaires in Dhaka, Qu Guan Zhou, announced that China was interested to invest $15 billion to $20 billion in Bangladesh’s rail sector, according to sources at the Prime Minister’s Office.

Following the offer, the government formed a three-member committee, headed by additional railway secretary Shashi Kumar Singh.
The committee recently selected eight large projects to implement with financial support from China. The list of projects has been sent to the Economic Relations Division (ERD) to start negotiations with Beijing.  
Previously, Railways Minister M Mujibul Haque said a 20-year master plan has been devised for development of the railway sector as the government wants to ensure rail services for all. 
Meanwhile, the government has decided to update the railway sector by implementing various projects. For implementing the projects, including 50 short, medium and long term ones, the authorities have prepared a work plan.
According to the railway ministry, 21 short-term projects will be implemented by June this year and 22 middle-term projects by 2016. The authorities also plan to finish the work of six long-term projects by 2018.
According to the work plan, short-term projects include filling up of vacant positions, creating new positions, finalising an organogram, reopening closed stations, setting up new loop lines for avoiding accidents, refurbishing seats of 2,500 chair coaches, building a double line from Tongi to Bhairab, remodelling Chittagong station, enhancing security and improving on board catering.
Middle-term projects include finalising work of the Dhaka-Chittagong dual line, taking delivery of 10 new engines funded by the government and 270 coaches funded by ADB and India, completing 17 ongoing projects, constructing second Bhairab and Titas bridges, modernising 38 signal and interlocking systems, constructing a 78.80 km track from Ishwardi to Dhalarchar and a dual gauge double line on the Tongi- Joydevpur and Akhaura-Laksam sections.
Long-term projects include repairing of Kulaura-Shahbajpur rail line, constructing a new  line from Khulna to Mongla and a meter gauge (MG) track from Ramu to Gundum near Myanmar, acquiring 70 locomotives under suppliers’ credit and 200 MG coaches under tenderers’ financing, and constructing Dhaka-Comilla elevated line and Bogra-Sirajganj-Raipur-Sadanandapur meter gauge line.