ADB likely to finance Bangladesh proposed Dhaka-Cox’s Bazar direct rail link

Dhaka: The proposed Dohazari-Cox’s Bazar-Ghundum rail-line project, which will link the capital directly to tourist hotspot Cox’s Bazar, is likely to be completed through Asian Development Bank funding. The government decided to suspend talks with Beijing on the proposed project, at a meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office on February 15, referring instead the loan proposal from ADB, revealed Economic Relation Division officials. Principal secretary Abul Kalam Azad presided over the meeting in which the railway ministry was asked to suspend discussion with the Chinese government, until completion of the ongoing negotiation with ADB. BR had been favouring the Chinese proposal after the prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, sought financial support from China during her last visit to Beijing in June 2014. BR took up the railway line project in 2010 aiming to establish direct rail link between Dhaka and Cox’s Bazar, the country’s number one tourist destination. The project is also part of the Trans Asian railway that will connect Bangladesh with China via Myanmar. The government failed to make any progress in the last four years, after failing to find a suitable source of financing. Last December, BR signed a memorandum of understanding with China Railway Group Limited to start a feasibility study for the rail-track, despite ADB having completed a study in this regard. ADB estimated the project cost between $1.2 billion and $1.5 billion for the 128-kilometre-long rail-line project up to the border with Myanmar. ADB has promised to give loan worth $492 million to develop key infrastructure projects in roads, railways, energy and trade, over the next three years. The projects are Dohazari-Cox’s Bazar railway link at a cost of $217 million, the second Bangladesh-India electrical grid interconnection at $105 million and road and trade facilitation at $170 million.