The authorities may begin a test run of the country's first metro rail service later this month.
The test will on the basic functions of the systems.
After this test, the authorities will operate the trains between four to five stations and then is expected to formally launch the service next year, they said.
Officials were asked to make preparations for the test run by May 24. Road Transports and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader is expected to announce a date on Tuesday.
The minister is scheduled to visit the metro rail depot at the capital's Diabari to see in person the first metro train brought from Japan last month.
During a visit to the project site in Uttara, particularly the Uttara North and Uttara Centre stations on Saturday, this correspondent saw several hundred workers making preparation for the test run.
Mass Rapid Transit Line-6 or MRT-6, the country's first metro rail, is being built from the capital's Uttara third phase to Motijheel at a cost of Tk 22,000 crore.
Once complete, the metro train will be able to carry 60,000 people an hour, reducing travel time from Uttara to Motijheel to less than an hour despite having 16 stations. It now takes about two hours to travel the distance on a regular day.
The first set of metro trains reached Dhaka on April 21 from Japan, registering a major development for the fast-track project of the government. The second set reached Mongla Port yesterday.
Contacted, MAN Siddique, managing director of Dhaka Mass Transit Company Ltd, the executing agency of the project, said his company has yet to receive the cars as the contractor is still testing them.
After that, an integrated test, including a test run, of the train will be carried out. "During the test run, the train would be operated on all tracks inside the depot and then on the viaducts," he told The Daily Star on Saturday.
"During the test, people from high-rise buildings will be able to see the operation of metro trains," he said.
Asked when exactly the test run will begin, he said the road transport and bridges minister will make the announcement.
However, officials concerned said they were asked to complete their preparation by May 24. "The higher authority wants to start the test run this month," one of them said, wishing not to be named.
Another top official of the DMTCL said the process may get delayed because not all the Indian engineers involved in the process could reach Dhaka.
"The process may be delayed as people's movement from India to Bangladesh remains suspended," he said, wishing anonymity.
The original implementation period of the project was 2012-2024. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina later directed that metro services from Uttara to Agargaon be made operational by 2019, and from Agargaon to Motijheel by 2020.
Failing to meet the deadline, the authorities in May 2019 said the project would be launched on December 16, 2021, as the country celebrates the golden jubilee of its independence.
But the authorities are unlikely to meet the deadline for early commissioning of metro rail in December this year due to the pandemic.
METRO SITE ABUZZ
The construction site of the much-anticipated metro rail in Uttara was buzzing with activities.
Some five to six workers were painting the rail tracks at Uttara North Station around noon on Saturday.
"We are giving the paint for the third and final time," one of the workers said as this correspondent reached there, climbing two floors of the station being constructed.
Three to four groups of workers were seen busy with other tasks.
On the first floor, some engineers and workers were busy working on one of the four escalators there. There will be stairs and elevators.
Overhead Catenary System (OCS), which consists of wires over the rail tracks, has already been installed. Commissioning of the OCS inside the depot and nearby lines have been done.
Engineers and workers were busy at Uttara Central Station too. Around 2,300 to 2,400 workers were employed in the first phase – between Uttara and Agargaon.
The development takes place even as the country battles the second wave of Covid-19. It is likely that the country will enter the metro rail era next year.
The overall progress of the project was 63.26 percent in April.
The first phase from Uttara to Agargaon saw 84.79 percent progress and the second phase from Agargaon to Motijheel 59.78 percent. The installation of tracks and other equipment and procurement of cars saw 54.40 percent progress as of April, according to documents.
Thirteen out of 52 structures inside the depot, have been complete and the package witnessed 95 percent progress as of April.
A total 14.4km out of 20.10km viaduct is now visible and 10.50km of rail tracks have been set between Uttara and Agargaon. Besides, over 20km of rail tracks have been set inside the depot.
Physical work at the 16 stations is making progress and at least four stations in the Uttara-Agargaon section witnessed major progress.