The Ministry of Road Transport and Bridges (MoRTB) has finally sought Tk 5.0 billion from the Ministry of Finance (MoF) to make the state-owned metro-rail company functional amid pressure from the project's financier.
Sources said MoRTB informed the mission of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) during a wrap-up meeting on Sunday that a letter was recently sent to MoF to get Tk 5.00 billion budget for the Dhaka Mass Transit Company Limited (DMTCL).
"The fund for the company is sought for the first time although the Japanese financier has been demanding it for long to make the company functional," said an official.
MoRTB was supposed to recruit DMTCL staff, according to the minutes of the discussion signed with JICA. Decisions were taken to recruit around 70 professionals for the company, but no effort was taken earlier to seek fund from MoF. But by January, recruitment for DMTCL will start, he added.
DMTCL is a 100 per cent state-owned company, responsible for planning, implementing, operating and managing all metro-rails being planned in the city's five corridors under a 20-year Revised Strategic Transport Plan (RSTP).
The company was formed two years ago, but its activity was limited within taking decisions, mainly on procurement, by its board.
JICA's recommendation was to start the first metro-rail under a project of the ministry until DMTCL's organogram and budget are ready to take over the charge of entire metro-rail related works by professionals.
The sources said in absence of a full-fledged company, implementation of other planned metro-rail projects has been delayed also.
According to RSTP, five Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) lines will be set up in the city's different corridors to ease chronic traffic congestion and meet the demands of mass commuters until 2035.
At present MRT line-6 from Uttara 3rd phase to Motijheel is in implementation stage with selecting contractors for its different components. But the work on MRT-1 and 5 has been delayed due to not making DMTCL functional.
JICA has so far provided all necessary technical and financial supports to build MRT line-6. But the organisation expressed its worry about the delay in starting two other MRTs, mainly MRT-1.
JICA has already signed loan agreement before its detailed design work is completed. The agency is also conducting feasibility study, and will do detailed design work for MRT-5 under another technical project.
But this progress cannot be utilised due to not making the company fully operative, said an official.
During the JICA mission visit, several meetings were held among the officials of the ministry, Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority and Dhaka Mass Rapid Transit Development (DMRTD) Project regarding the functionality of DMTCL.
Besides, the mission highlighted the issues related to MRT-1 and 5, and requested the government to take necessary steps for shifting Gabtoli Bus Terminal temporarily during the construction work of MRT line-5.
The mission also asked for taking approval from all concerned, especially when it will cross the underground of Dhaka Cantonment area.
The meeting was informed that steps in these regard have already been taken. DMTCL board in its next meeting will also take the decision of professional recruitment to speed up the process of MRT implementation.