Bangladesh opens first metro line in traffic-stricken capital Dhaka

DHAKA (Reuters) – Bangladesh’s sprawling capital inaugurated its first-ever metro line on Wednesday as authorities scramble to ease traffic congestion that has strangled growth and inflamed spirits in the gridlocked metropolis.
Dhaka is one of the most densely populated cities in the world, and the daily commute along its car-clogged roads is a source of constant frustration for its 22 million residents.
Local researchers say the capital’s economy loses more than $3 billion each year in lost work time due to traffic jams, often compounded by regular street protests and monsoon downpours.
The new elevated train network has been in development for almost a decade and is expected to reach more than 100 stations and six lines criss-crossing the city by 2030.
Wednesday saw the start of operations on a section of the First Line linking a neighborhood on the outskirts of Dhaka to the city center, built at a cost of $2.8 billion and largely financed by Japanese development funds.
“This subway is also another source of pride for us,” Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said at a ceremony marking the first service.
“We have promised to clear Dhaka’s traffic jams,” she added. “With the six metro lines, we will be able to do that.”
The line is expected to carry 60,000 people per hour when fully operational and its opening has been eagerly awaited by commuters.
“We are counting on it. It will reduce public suffering,” Mostafizur Rahman, who spends nearly three hours on a bus to work every morning, told AFP.
Hasina used the opening ceremony to commemorate six Japanese railway engineers working on the project who were killed in an attack on a Dhaka cafe by Islamist extremists in 2016.


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