Indian and Chinese companies are set to sign deals on four major components of Payra seaport -- the third in Bangladesh that is being constructed at an estimated cost of $16 billion.
A primary agreement on a major component of the port is likely to be signed with India Ports Global during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's upcoming visit to New Delhi this month.
The two neighbouring countries' shipping secretaries started talks in Dhaka yesterday to finalise the details of the agreement on the construction of a multipurpose (container) terminal at the port.
A couple of Indian companies have shown interest in investing in the Payra seaport, Rajive Kumar, India's shipping secretary, told reporters in Dhaka before the start of the meeting.
India Ports Global, a joint venture between Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust and Kandla Port Trust, is one of the interested firms.
Bangladesh's Shipping Secretary Ashok Madhob Roy said India has agreed to invest in one of the nine components of the Payra seaport.
A preliminary agreement will be signed first through discussions and then the standard operational procedure, he said.
Some 125 countries have shown interest in participating in the construction of Payra port, according to Roy.
The shipping ministry has also recommended the government sign an agreement with India Ports Global for construction of the 1,000 metre-long multipurpose terminal at the Payra port, and the Prime Minister's Office also given its nod.
Officials said the shipping ministry will sign three separate deals today with two Chinese companies, which have been selected by the government, on three components of the Payra port.
China Harbour Engineering Company will construct 'core port infrastructure', while China State Construction Engineering Corporation will build 'riparian liabilities' and 'housing, education and health facilities' of the Payra port.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the limited-scale operation of Payra seaport in August.
The port will help not only the people in the south, but Bangladesh as a whole, and other South Asian nations as well, Hasina said during the inauguration.
There will be an exclusive economic zone, power plants, liquefied natural gas terminal, eco-tourism and an airport around the port -- all of which are expected to bring a new lease of life to the economically lagging south.
Until now 16 acres of land have been acquired, with the authority still in the process of acquiring the remaining 6,000 acres designated for the port.
The authority says it wants to develop the port in three phases and make it fully operational by 2023.
By 2018, the authority plans to ensure 10-metre depth of the channel through dredging and build a multipurpose terminal and a bulk terminal to handle higher volumes of shipments.
The Payra seaport began operation three years after the government's announcement with the view to facilitating the entry of bigger ships that cannot anchor at Chittagong and Mongla ports.
The main port to be built on the west bank of Rabnabad channel will allow up to 250-metre vessels to come through once dredging of 35-kilomtres of the channel is done.
A preliminary deal has been signed with Belgium's Jan De Nul for dredging and maintenance.
The Chittagong port that now handles more than 90 percent of the export-import trade of Bangladesh can handle 186-metre vessels, according to officials of the Payra port.