‘All roads lead to Kamalapur’: how the Dhaka area is set to be transformed into a multimodal transport hub

The proposed hub will be the first in the country to bring roads and railway communications at the same vantage point around the Kamalapur station so that passengers can quickly hop off from one mode of transportation and hop on to another.

Zafar AhmedSenior Correspondentbdnews24.com
Published : 29 Nov 2022, 09:53 PM
Updated : 29 Nov 2022, 09:53 PM

Kamalapur is home to the largest and busiest railway station in Bangladesh and at least 115,000 passengers use the facilities every day for travelling. Just a few paces outside of the station, one of the busiest coach terminals in Dhaka is also being used by thousands of passengers each day.

Now, as the government’s multi-billion dollar communication projects of mass rapid transit or MRT, expressway and bus rapid transit or BRT, is about to come to fruition, the already very busy area will likely become the busiest and most chaotic.

To tackle the possible chaos and massive increase of influx of passengers, the government is planning to transform Kamalapur into a 'Multi Modal Transport Hub'.

Stakeholders and communication experts believe Dhaka’s traffic system will rapidly change with the introduction of MRT, expressway, and BRT, for the better. 

THE PROJECT DETAILS IN DEPTH

  • New buildings and a multidimensional station for the Kamalapur hub will cost $574 million.

  • The Airport Railway Station hub will cost $220 million.

  • Proposed development of the Dhaka-Chattogram rail corridor will cost $760 million.

  • Faujdarhat-CGPY meter gauge rail line in Chattogram will be converted to dual gauge.

  • A connection will be established with the Bay Terminal for Dhaka-bound cargo transportation from Chattogram seaport.

  • High-quality workshops will be built for trains.

  • At least 20 locomotives and other equipment will be purchased.

The proposed hub, sources said, will be modelled like the ones in the developed world to provide state-of-the-art passenger services.

This hub will be the first in the country to bring roads and railway communications at the same vantage point around the Kamalapur station so that passengers can quickly hop off from one mode of transportation on to another.

A similar hub is also being planned to surround the Dhaka Airport Railway Station, sources said.

Under the Kamalapur hub plan, Kamalapur Inland Container Depot or ICD will be relocated and a 60-storey multi-purpose building will be built in its place.

“A multi-storey railway station will be built in the underground of the building to serve the metro rail [MRT], subway, elevated expressway and BRT passengers,” said Project Director Al Fattah Md Masudur Rahman.

The government of Bangladesh has signed a memorandum of understanding with Japan to implement the project.

Both Dhaka and Tokyo have set a deadline of 2030 to implement it under a public-private partnership or PPP.

A consortium, led by Japan’s Kajima Corporation, has been formed as well with Nippon Koei and Oriental Consultants Global, both also from the Far Eastern nation, as junior partners.

Masudur Rahman told bdnews24.com a feasibility survey has been commissioned and a proposal for financing submitted to the World Bank.

WHAT’S A MULTIMODAL TRANSPORT HUB?

A multimodal transport hub is a large area where many routes of different transportation and communication system meet. Passengers can use it to interchange their preferred mode of transportation to travel to their destinations. It saves time and increases the capacity of the transport sector.

As part of the preparations for these hubs around Kamalapur and Dhaka Airport Railway Station, projects to modernise the Dhaka-Chattogram rail transport corridor will also be undertaken, according to the PPP Authority’s website.

The website also says the existing infrastructure of Kamalapur Railway Station will also be shifted elsewhere.

The planned 60-storey building will have food and shopping marts as well as hotels for the waiting passengers,

Plans are also underway to develop multifaceted commercial areas including shopping complexes in the vast scope of this building.

The project director said separate infrastructure will be built for the subway station, MRT and elevated expressway for passenger management.

The targets set in the preliminary proposal are:

- Relocation of the Kamalapur ICD

- Demolition and cleaning of all the structures within the depot area.

- Construction of the 60-storey building.

- Appropriation of necessary lands for the construction of infrastructure at the Airport Railway Station.

FINANCING

The total cost of the project is initially estimated at Tk 170 billion. The Economic Relations Division has tapped the World Bank with a $1.09 billion, or Tk 110 billion, loan request for the planned proposal. The rest is expected to come from the state coffers.

SM Salimullah Bahar, chief planning officer of Bangladesh Railway, said officials held initial talks with the global lender over the loan and its technical representatives visited the proposed site in April and September.

A World Bank official in Dhaka said the final talks will be held following the feasibility study.

To implement the project, some structures, including the ICD, will need to be removed. The process to approve another project, expected to be financed by the Asian Development Bank, is ongoing to relocate the ICD to Gazipur.

IMPLEMENTATION

Besides Kajima and Bangladesh Railway, Dhaka Mass Transit Company Limited, the Bridges Authority and Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority will work together in the project.

Director Fattah said the implementation will be done under a government-to-government financing deal with Japan.

A sub-working group led by Kajima is working on the design.

According to the PPP deal, the financier and the government will share the earnings from the project. Details about the shares are not finalised yet.

[Writing in English by Adil Mahmood]

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher