DHAKA: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the government of Bangladesh on Sunday signed agreements for $505 million in loans to further improve the country's railways that will help the national economy and boost subregional trade.
Mohammad Mejbahuddin, Senior Secretary, Economic Relations Division (ERD), and Kazuhiko Higuchi, Country Director, Bangladesh Resident Mission of ADB, signed the agreements in Dhaka.
"The assistance will help railways better serve needs of people and movement of goods, and help improve domestic and subregional trade," said Higuchi.
"This project will also help improve the overall railway transport system in Bangladesh, and aims to reduce transport costs and improve logistics of strategic corridors, such as Dhaka-Chittagong link, for subregional trade." he added.
The South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Railway Connectivity Project will help upgrade the 72-kilometer Akhaura-Laksam section of the Dhaka-Chittagong railway corridor to a double track dual-gauge railway line, along with modern signaling equipment.The existing track will be upgraded in accordance with the requirements of the Trans Asia Railways network. Eleven railway stations will be reconstructed with special facilities for the elderly, women, children, and disabled.
The project will also support capacity development for the permanent project management unit to be established in Bangladesh Railway and for accessing climate mitigation funding.
The Akhaura-Laksam section is part of a major subregional corridor and of the Trans-Asia Railway network. The project was endorsed by the SASEC Trade Facilitation and Transport Working Group in a meeting held in Singapore on 30 October, 2013.
The total project cost is $805 million. The European Investment Bank (EIB) will cofinance the project with $175 million while the government of Bangladesh will provide $125 million. The project will be executed by Bangladesh Railway and is expect to be completed by 2022.