Payra seaport will start operations on a limited scale tomorrow by unloading cargoes from a vessel arriving from China.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is expected to inaugurate the first deep-sea port in Patuakhali, about 319 kilometres southwest of Dhaka, through a video conference, the shipping ministry said in a statement yesterday.
Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan is also scheduled to join the inaugural ceremony.
The trial operations of the port started early this month when a vessel from China reached the outer anchorage.
The vessel—MV Fortune Bird—is waiting at the outer anchorage with 53,000 tonnes of crushed black stones to be used in the Padma bridge project.
Two ships from Malaysia and India are also expected to arrive at the port, according to the statement. The much-talked-about seaport is set to come into operation three years after the government declared building the infrastructure to facilitate entry of big ships that cannot anchor at Chittagong and Mongla ports.
The government plans to build the Payra seaport under a public-private partnership on 6,000 acres on the west bank of Rabnabad channel. The channel will allow up to 250-metre vessels to come through.
The Chittagong seaport, which now handles more than 90 percent of export-import trade of Bangladesh, can facilitate berthing of 186-metre vessels, according to Payra Port Authority (PPA).
Already, the government acquired lands, installed two five-tonne cranes and constructed roads to begin operations of the port.
The PPA aims to facilitate berthing of ships carrying clinker, fertiliser and other bulk commodities at outer anchorage and transportation of the cargos through lighter vessels by this year.
The port is expected to be fully operational by 2023.
The government hopes that the Payra deep-sea port will make the economically week southwest region vibrant and contribute to the country's economic advancement.
The PPA said the port will encourage private companies to set up factories, especially garment plants and shipbuilding yards, in the adjacent areas and create jobs.
The government has already signed a deal with a Chinese firm to build a 1,320MW coal-fired power plant.
The port has the potential to become a transit point for shipment of goods of neighbouring countries.
The government will construct a four-lane road from Barisal to Patuakhali's beach town Kuakata to ensure connectivity between the port and the rest of the country, particularly two economic powerhouses -- Dhaka and Chittagong regions.