According to experts, the construction of the proposed subway in Dhaka will cost an average of Tk 2,362 crore per kilometer. After the construction, regular passengers will have to pay 20 to 25 thousand takas per month to go from one end of the subway to the other. But Dhaka city and its people are not yet ready for such an expensive commuting system.
Therefore, the urban experts have emphasized the rescue of sidewalks and improved bus service to solve traffic congestion in Dhaka by eliminating the subway plan. In a virtual discussion organized by the Institute of Planning and Development (IPD), experts said this.
Director of IPD Mohammad Ariful Islam gave an introductory speech on occasion. Farhadur Reza, Associate Professor, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Jahangirnagar University, and Maruf Hossain, Joint Secretary, Bangladesh Paribesh Bachao Andolan, also spoke on the occasion.
Professor Adil Muhammad Khan, Executive Director, IPD, presented the keynote address at the dialogue entitled ‘Subway Project in Dhaka: Analysis of the Relevance of Sustainable Transport Planning.’ He said the government wants to build 256 km of a subway in Dhaka city by 2050. It will have a total of 11 routes. In addition, there are plans to launch four routes by 2030. Adil Muhammad Khan also said the total cost to build the 258 km subway would be $65.45 billion. It will cost around Tk 2,362 crore per kilometer. The cost of building four routes by 2030 is about half of the country’s total budget for the current financial year.
Noting that Dhaka city is not ready for such an expensive project, he said, “The per capita income of the people of the countries where such subways have been built so far is 20 to 40 times higher than ours.” Instead, he recommended developing railways at an affordable cost, building pedestrian-friendly sidewalks, and improving bus services in Dhaka.
Speaking on the occasion, Ashraful Islam, director of IPD and city planner of the Capital Development Authority, said that what percentage of people’s income should be spent on travel should also be considered. According to him, the transportation cost for any general public traveling through the subway is between BDT 20,000 and BDT 25,000 per month. Apart from that, the soil condition in other parts of the city besides old Dhaka is also bad. Therefore, the cost is higher if the railway is built under such soil. Therefore, considering the cost, he decided not to build the subway for the time being.
Professor Akhtar Mahmud, an advisor to the IPD and a town planner, expressed concern that the subway might be an obstacle on the side of Bangladesh. He said big projects also increase the debt burden. Therefore, he demanded to solve the problems of Dhaka city through cost-effective projects instead of big projects.