The government has taken up a massive development programme for the struggling Mongla port with Indian financial support.
The move aims at making the port attractive to both domestic and regional users, officials said on Wednesday.
The state-owned Mongla Port Authority (MPA) has undertaken the Tk 60.14 billion port upgrading project that will improve facilities in the nation's second seaport.
According to the port authority, the Indian government will provide loans worth about Tk 44.59 billion while the rest will be borne by the Bangladesh government from its own coffers.
"We've recently sought approval for the project (Mongla) from the Planning Commission. Soon after getting the approval, we will start work on upgrading the port facility bringing it at par with international standards," said a Shipping Ministry official.
He said they have a plan to create the Mongla port as one of the regional sea transportation hubs to boost foreign trade.
India, Nepal and Bhutan have already proposed using it, he added.
The government is building the Padma Bridge. With the prospect of upgrading train and road transport facilities between Dhaka and Mongla, setting up the Khanjahan Ali Airport and building a special economic zone there, the port's potentials will rise further within a few years, the official noted.
Currently the Mongla port has lower draft, lack of container jetty, and a weak transportation facility with the rest of the country, which is affecting the export and import business.
The Chittagong Port is the largest sea-going corridor of Bangladesh, which alone handles more than 90 per cent of the country's foreign trade at the moment.
In contrast, Mongla, established in 1954, remains under-utilised due to its poor facilities and lower draft of the water channel.
Meanwhile, the government has taken up another project to excavate the Mongla channel from the Bay of Bengal to make the port an effective transportation hub.
Another Shipping Ministry official said not only the Bangladeshi businessmen and traders, their Indian, Nepalese and Bhutanese counterparts will also get the benefit from this port under the government-to-government arrangements.
He said the three neighbouring countries have already proposed to the Bangladesh government for use of the Mongla port for transporting their products to and from abroad.
The port authority will build container terminals at jetty-1 and jetty-2, container handling and delivery yards, service vessel jetty, shed and office, slipway and marine workshop complex through the proposed project.
The Mongla port upgrades work is scheduled to be completed by fiscal year (FY) 2022-2023.
The Planning Commission is scrutinising the project proposal before its approval, an official said.
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