Feasibility study begins on new seaport, floating bay harbour

Twin aims: reducing shipping congestion and tackling growing external trade

| Updated: December 10, 2017 19:21:14

A representational seaport image/Internet A representational seaport image/Internet

The government began a techno-economic feasibility study to build a new seaport and a floating harbour in the Bay of Bengal for tackling growing trade through the busy maritime corridor.

Officials said the new seaport will be built in Mirsarai area while the floating harbour at the outer anchorage of Chittagong port.

A Netherlands-based firm, Public Domain Architecten, has been awarded the task of studying the feasibility of the floating harbour. A consortium of Denmark, Japan and Bangladesh is to study the viability of building a seaport in Mirsarai off the Chittagong port.

The Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) is funding both the studies. Studying feasibility of the floating harbour will cost Tk 107.32 million and the seaport Tk 163.72 million.
The new seaport will be a mid-sized one with both cargo and container terminals, CPA chairman M Khaled Iqbal told the FE.

He said the new maritime port will have nearly 9.5-metre draft like the one the Chittagong seaport now has. "The area has huge water and a moderate dredging can raise draft adequately."

Asked why such a mid-sized seaport is under study when the Chittagong port is about to build bay terminal, Laldia Multipurpose Terminal, Patenga Container Terminal, and Karnaphuli Container Terminal-like big establishments, Mr Iqbal said the new seaport will mainly handle goods to and from Mirsarai Economic Zone, apart from others.

The Mirsarai Economic Zone is the biggest one in the country, having a land area of 30,000 acres, where the authorities expect investment of over $30 billion in next 15 years. The zone is scheduled to be ready within next year.

The CPA chairman said such a big establishment, where billions of dollars will be invested and production will be in large volumes, needs a port support for carrying goods smoothly.

He said a pre-feasibility study found the port viable and thus now a detailed study is underway.

Officials said the floating harbour will be built mainly to facilitate carrying goods to and from Dhaka and elsewhere to Chittagong seaport area through river routes. In-and outbound containers will be offloaded onto the floating harbour at outer anchorage before being reloaded into feeder vessels towards Colombo or Singapore and small container vessels for reaching inland container terminals (ICTs).

The CPA chairman said carrying goods to and from Chittagong port faces huge congestions on the highways. Using waterways for transporting goods is both time-and- cost-saving, he noted.

Statistics show that nearly 70 per cent of containers to and from the Chittagong port are destined for or originate from the capital city of Dhaka and the loads are mostly carried by road.

To facilitate container carrying through waterways the government built an ICT in Pangaon in 2013, and were constructing two more ICTs in Narayanganj and Ashuganj. A good number of private-sector businesses are also setting up such ICTs to carry containers to and from Dhaka by river routes.

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