Prothom Alo illustration

Bangladesh bought 20 units of diesel-electric multiple unit (DEMU) trains to facilitate short-distance travel in 2013. The modern DEMU trains got popular immediately. Even though the lifespan of the trains was projected to be 20 to 25 years, the DEMU trains became inoperative within a few years.

The project failed miserably and became a burden for the railway. The authorities draw huge flak for wasting public money by taking up the project without any feasibility studies. News media also ran reports on it. But now the rail authorities are being praised for taking initiative to repair the trains.

The government spent Tk 6.5 billion on these computer-controlled trains run with special software. Although Bangladesh spent such a huge sum of money, the Chinese company did not transfer the technology to operate the DEMU trains. An estimation finds a huge loss has to be incurred for repairing these inoperative trains. Assistant director general (Rolling Stock) of Bangladesh Railways Md Manjur-Ul-Alam Chowdhury took up the initiative to repair the trains which remained inoperative for a long time. The trains are being prepared to operate again, thanks to his endeavours.

Engineer Md Asaduzzaman is the mainstay of this process of repairing the out-of-order trains. He is a former official of the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission and an alumnus of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET).

He came forward after Bangladesh Railways sought his assistance. Within just two and half months, he devised local technology to repair the trains. Asaduzzaman said, "We have successfully repaired five units of DEMU using local technology. We have successfully done the test run. Repairing a DEMU train cost a maximum of Tk 5 million, while the cost would have been around Tk 30 million if we had taken China's assistance.' Thus, a huge amount of public money has been saved.

The remaining 15 trains would be repaired using the same local technology. Manjar-Ul-Alam said, 'Our engineers have made a historic breakthrough. Our manpower has become more efficient in the process.

We would repair all the DEMU trains which will increase the service of public transport.'

Despite many other controversies, we praise the railways for the initiative. Kudos to Asaduzzaman and his team.