Capital dredging of Karnaphuli River, including the port channel, will end this month as 99 per cent dredging work was completed last month, sources said.
Officials at Chittagong Port Authority (CPA), implementing agency of the Tk 2.42 billion project said after completing capital dredging maintenance dredging of the river will be done next month to ensure smooth navigation in the river and the port channel.
They said after completion of capital dredging and maintenance dredging, larger ships will be able to take berth at Chittagong Port, the country's prime seaport.
A CPA official said shipping and goods transport costs of importers and exporters through Chittagong Port will decline once the dredging is done.
Vessels with 10 metres draft will be able to berth at the port's jetties after navigating through the port channel from next month, he said.
The dredging will facilitate entry of larger container carrying vessels to the jetties which will speed up container handling, including loading and unloading of export-import goods at the port, the official said. He said, at present, ships with a maximum 9.5-metre draft can berth at the port's jetties. Earlier, maximum 7.5-8 metres draft could cast anchor at the port, he added.
Commander Arifur Rahman, Chief Hydrographer of CPA and also Project Director (PD) said almost all work of capital dredging was completed as of September 30 last.
"We have dredged 5.01 million (51 lakh) cubic metres of garbage from the river bed. Of these, 50 per cent were polythene," he informed.
"Initially, we started cleaning 13 feet thick layers of polythene from the river bed. But when we found that polythene layers were as thick as 21 feet under the water body in many areas of river the imported suction dredging machine developed glitches and failed to dredge the river bed. Then we used locally-made made grab dredgers to clean the 21 feet thick layer of polythene, plastic, iron, wood and other hard objects from numerous spots of the river bed," he added.
CPA Secretary Omar Faruk said the river will be fully dredged by end of October. After completing capital dredging, the CPA will conduct the maintenance dredging to ensure smooth navigation and prevent siltation after capital dredging, he said.
The CPA with cooperation from Bangladesh Navy (BN) started the capital dredging work in November 2020.
Md Saiful Islam, project manager of E-Engineering said, the work was very challenging.
He said, at first, the imported dredgers were not working as wastes piled up on the river bed were very thick and solid. There was everything under the water of Karnaphuli - plastic, polythene, iron, tree, trunk, wood, bark and cloth. After removing these wastes, we excavated the soil with dredgers, he said, adding soil dredged from the river bed was dumped in different places, including Bakliar Char, Firingibazar, Chaktaikhal, Firingibazar and on the north bank of the river near Shah Amanat Bridge.
"Apart from the wastes, siltation of the river posed another challenge. After we excavated soil fom different areas, siltation began. Shallow and vacuum places beneath the river were being filled up with soil carried into the river bed from canals and water-clogged areas of the port city. Due to these, we had to carry out dredging many areas of the river multiple times," he added.