Dhaka, one of the most one of the world’s most densely-populated cities, got its first metro rail service, on Wednesday as the government aims at ensuring easier mobility on the car-clogged roads which are a source of constant frustration for the 22 million population.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the service accompanied by newly-appointed Japanese Ambassador Kiminori Iwama and Ichiguchi Tomohide, the chief representative of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
The $2.8 project is mostly funded by Japan, as the first line connects a prime neighborhood on Dhaka’s periphery with the city center. It is expected to carry 60,000 people each hour when it is fully operational, according to project documents.
However, the entire network is expected to grow to over 100 stations and six lines crisscrossing the city by 2030.
“We have added another feather of pride to the crown of Bangladesh’s people today. Another feather added to the crown of the development of Bangladesh,” she said during the inauguration.
Hasina used the ceremony to commemorate six Japanese rail engineers working on the project who were killed during an attack on a Dhaka cafe by Islamic extremists in 2016. A total of 29 people died, including 20 hostages.
In June, Hasina inaugurated a 6.51-kilometre bridge spanning the Padma River, which was built by China at a cost of about $3.6 billion that was paid with domestic funds. It was one of more than 100 bridges Hasina has opened in recent months.
The opposition often accuses Hasina’s government of corruption in implementing big projects, but it denies the allegations.
Dhaka is one of the world’s most densely populated cities with over 20 million people who struggle to commute on clogged roads. According to a research by the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, the economy in Dhaka loses about $3 billion each year in lost work time due to traffic jams.
Both Japan and China are major development partners of Bangladesh, which strives to graduate from the least developed to a developing nation by 2026 on a World Trade Organization list.