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The changing landscape of Matarbari

NAZIMUDDIN SHYAMOL | December 10, 2023 00:00:00

The deep-sea port being constructed at Matarbari in Cox's Bazar under a project of the Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) has started to become visible now. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the Matarbari deep-sea port channel at Maheshkhali in Cox's Bazar and laid the foundation stone for construction of the first terminal of the deep-sea port on November 11 last. Now the construction work on the deep-sea port is going on full swing.

Construction work on the first terminal of the deep-sea port will start soon as the tender process for appointing a contractor is in the final stage. The Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) has completed evaluating the technical and financial aspects of offers submitted by the Japanese joint venture contractor that qualified for the tender. Besides, the required concurrence from the financier Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has also been received. The tender process now awaits government approval, after which the contractor will be appointed.

The state-owned Coal Power Generation Company Bangladesh Limited (CPGCBL) handed over the operation of the Matarbari deep-sea port channel to the CPA on September 20 last. As a result, all responsibility for the deep-sea port went to the CPA.

CPA Secretary Omar Faruk said, "CPA will plant trees in the blank land of the deep-sea port. Almost all areas of the deep-sea port will be green and eco-friendly. The deep-sea port will be also a natural port ensuring the green environment and ecosystem of the area."

The Ultra Criticality Maintenance System of the Coal Project will also be environment-friendly and the 43% of produced heat will be converted to power. So, an ecological balance will be ensured at the deep-sea port and adjoining areas.

Mahbubul Alam, president of FBCCI said, "The deep-sea port being built by the CPA will become the region's most important export-import hub in future. The country's first Deep-sea Port would contribute 2 to 3 per cent to the growth of the national economy.

He further said, "The existing yearly container handling capacity of the Chittagong Port is 3.2 million TEUS. The growing demand will exceed the existing handling capacity within the next few years. We have to increase the handling capacity by more than 4 million TEUS by 2033.

Khairul Alam Sujan, Vice President of Bangladesh Freight Forwarders Association and Director of Shipping Agents Association, says the Matarbari deep-sea port is a new window of opportunities for the economy of Bangladesh.

Alamgir Parvej, Director of Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI), said, "Matarbari deep-sea port is the new horizon in the maritime world. After 2026, Bangladeshi importers and exporters will not have to use transshipment ports. Big ships will come directly from Europe and America to Matarbari. Bringing goods and containers on larger ships reduces time and cost. Import exporters want it."

The government is constructing the deep-sea port at Matarbari of Cox's Bazar to help the country handle growing volumes of exports and imports and ease the pressure on the Chittagong seaport. The government is also constructing a coal-based power plant, an LNG terminal and highways.

Experts concerned expect that Matarbari will become the most important export-import hub in the South-Asian region in future as the region is bustling with a number of mega projects, including deep-sea port. Officials of the CPA told The Financial Express that the work on the dream project might be completed in 2027.

The distance from the Chittagong Port to the deep-sea port at Matarbari by sea is 34 nautical miles, from the Payra port 190 nautical miles and from Mongla port 240 nautical miles. The deep-sea port will ease unloading of goods from the mother vessels and their transportation to other ports by road and sea within a short period of time.

The total budget of the project, which was approved by the ECNEC on March 10, 2020, is Tk 177.77 billion (17,777.1613 crore). Of the total amount, only the construction of the seaport will cost around Tk 89.55 billion. For the project, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is providing a loan assistance of around Tk 67.42 billion while the remaining Tk 22.13 billion will come from the CPA's own fund. Apart from this, Tk 88.21 billion will be spent on road construction under the Roads and Highway Department in the project area.

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