Resume transport construction work

Road Transport and Bridges ministry has directed Roads and Highways Department (RHD) and metro rail authority to resume work of all projects amid shutdown to maintain continuity. It also asked authorities concerned to ensure all health-safety measures and social distancing, following the guidelines of Health Service Division. Road Transport and Highway Division on Tuesday sent a letter in this regard to chief engineer of RHD and managing director of Dhaka Mass Transit Company Ltd (DMTCL), which is implementing the country’s first metro rail project.

The decision came at a time when the country is witnessing increasing numbers of Covid-19 deaths and infections. Most public and private offices were directed to remain closed from March 26 to May 16. Operation of public transport remains suspended to slow down spread of the outbreak.

However, the government allowed factories to resume operation from last week of April. Shopping malls, all types of shops and other businesses are going to reopen from Sunday on a limited scale ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr. National technical advisory committee on Covid-19 has recommended reconsidering the government’s decision of reopening, saying such a move could lead to further coronavirus transmission.

In the letter sent to RHD and DMTCL, the division said work of the projects should continue “for the sake of the country’s development and considering reality on the ground”. RHD is implementing around 200 projects related to construction and maintenance of roads and bridges across the country. Of them, eight have been listed as mega projects.

On the other hand, DMTCL is responsible for building and maintaining the country’s metro rail network in Dhaka and its adjacent areas. Physical work of MRT-6, running from Uttara Third Phase to Motijheel, was ongoing. Most physical work of all projects under RHD and DMTCL remained halted since March 26.

CHALLENGES TO RESUME WORK An RHD engineer, who is involved with two major projects, said although the ministry has given the order, it will be difficult to restart work before Eid. “It would take four to five days to bring workers at project sites, and we don’t have many days before Eid.

So, the work will resume after Eid,” he told The Daily Star on Wednesday, wishing anonymity. Besides, there is a concern about the supply channel of construction materials, he said, adding that many sectors — including banks, ports and transport — are involved with the process. AKM Manir Hossain Pathan, additional chief engineer (planning and maintenance wing) of RHD, said they have already asked project officials to resume work as much as possible, maintaining all health-safety measures.

“There are many districts which are not much affected yet. We have asked officials to escalate work in those districts,” he told this correspondent on Wednesday. Contacted, MAN Siddique, managing director of DMTCL, said although they have been continuing their work on limited scale, they want to go full swing within seven to 10 days.

He said only 12 out of around 1,000 foreign nationals involved in the project left the country. Besides, one third of local workers are still at project sites, he added. They will bring back other workers on special arrangement after doing necessary health check-ups, taking assistance from local administration, he added.

“We got hints that the government will give directive to resume work, so we have already started work on the stations… But we may not be able to continue work in full swing due to safety concerns,” he further said. MRT-6 is under-construction at a cost of Tk 22,000 crore and is expected to be completed in December 2021.

However, the project witnessed 44.12 per cent overall progress as of April this year. Once completed, it will carry 60,000 passengers per hour. Physical work of MRT-1, the country’s first underground metro rail running from Dhaka airport to Kamalapur Railway Station, is scheduled to start in December this year.

It would have an elevated part to connect Purbachal with Natun Bazar.

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