JICA to provide Tk 132.53b
Zahid Hossain Biplob: Considering the necessity of smooth functioning and handling large ocean-going ships, cargoes and oil tankers, the government is going to build Matarbari deep seaport by 2026.
The proposed Matarbari deep seaport is located near Cox’s Bazar which will be two-three times higher than that of Bangladesh’s largest seaport in Chattogram.
The Chattogram Port Authority has taken up a Tk 185.80 billion project for constructing the multi-purpose port at Matarbari to be financed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
Out of the total cost of the project, the JICA will provide Tk 132.53 billion (US$1.55 billion) in loans and the government will provide the remaining amount from the internal resources.
Talking to Daily Industry, a Shipping Ministry official told that the proposed port will be set up to handle large ocean-going ships, cargoes and oil tankers as the Chittagong port is unable to accommodate those due to its lower draft.
The Matarbari deep-sea port will have the highest water draft against similar facilities in Asia, officials said.
Apart from this, the JICA is also helping Bangladesh to set up a 1,200-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant and a modern township at Matarbari.
However, the port authority has recently sought approval from the Planning Commission for the Matarbari project on the Maheshkhali Island in the Bay of Bengal.
A ministry of shipping official said since the Chittagong port is not suitable for handling ocean-going vessels and its capacity will exhaust in near future, the government has decided to build the port at Matarbari.
The proposed seaport will have some 16-metres of draft, nearly double of the Chittagong port’s.
The Chittagong port cannot handle more than 2,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) of container-carrying vessels as its draft is roughly 9.5 metres, he said.
But the Matarbari port will be able to handle ships with 8,000 TEUs, he added.
Since the Bangladesh government is setting up an energy hub on the Maheshkhali Island, and some special economic zones in Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar areas, a deep seaport has become imperative, the shipping ministry official said.
The Colombo seaport in Sri Lanka, Jawaharlal Nehru Port at Navi Mumbai in India, Karachi Port in Pakistan, and Chennai Port in India can handle large vessels and are more efficient than the Chittagong port, he said.
According to the CPA project proposal, the proposed Matarbari deep seaport will be able to handle modern container-carrying, ocean-going vessels, open cargoes, and oil tankers, the Shipping Ministry official said.
The port authority will build a 300-metre multipurpose terminal and a 460-metre container terminal in the first phase of the project.
It will also procure cargo-handling and other necessary equipment, construct roads and bridges to connect with the seaport.
A port official said the authorities will start construction of the port as soon as it gets the Commission’s approval.
The project is scheduled for completion by June 2026.In the next phase, the authority has a plan to expand the port considering the growing demand of the country, he added.
Quoting a JICA study, he said that a deep seaport for Bangladesh is needed as the country’s export and import are going up and the Chittagong port’s capacity will exhaust within the next few years.
Industry insiders said although Chittagong port is the country’s largest seaport, handling nearly 90 per cent of foreign trade but it is not suitable for handling ocean-going vessels.
The proposed deep sea port would help handling smooth functioning of the large scale ships as well as boosting country’s export and import trade, they said.
After implementing the mega project, it will reduce the pressure on Chittagong sea port, they added.