The Payra sea port in Patuakhali would be operational from December on a limited scale. The government plans to gradually turn it into a deep seaport.
"Apart from a deep seaport in Matarbari, another one will be constructed in Payra," Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal told the press after an Ecnec meeting chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) meeting approved a Tk 1,128 crore project to develop primary infrastructures and facilities to make Payra port operational.
Kamal also said there would be no deep seaport in Sonadia.
Ten countries want to invest a total of $15.5 billion in different components of the deep seaport project, according to sources in the planning ministry.
China, India and some Middle Eastern and European countries among others want to invest in the project, said a ministry official, seeking anonymity.
The Payra port authority informed the Ecnec meeting that the countries have already submitted their investment proposals. The government will have to invest only $400 million in the deep seaport if the proposals are accepted, the official told The Daily Star.
This will be the third seaport in the country once in operation. The other two are the Chittagong port and the Mongla port.
After considering the idea of building the port in Sonadia off Cox's Bazar for a few years, the government in 2013 turned to Payra. The prime minister inaugurated Payra deep seaport site on November 19, 2013 and development work began soon after. Earlier in the same months, parliament enacted the Payra Port Authority Act.
"Some limited scale infrastructures such as pontoon, crane and security building have already been developed on a 16-acre piece of land. The necessary work for lightering from big vessels has also been completed. The [port's] operation can begin on a limited scale after some more constructions are completed in the next few months," the minister said.
A one lakh square foot warehouse will be set up, a 6km-long four-lane road will be constructed to connect Payra with Barisal-Kuakata highway, and 94 lakh cubic meter dredging will be done to maintain navigability at the port, he said.
Initially, the port will handle loading and unloading of food grains, fertiliser and cement.
"The full-fledged port activities in Payra will start by 2023. And then it will have the capacity to house 75,000 containers," Kamal said, referring to the existing capacity of only 1,500 containers at Chittagong Port. "So, the cargo handling cost will come down to one-third."
According to the project proposal, the government is readying the Payra port on its own funding to boost Bangladesh's international trade as Chittagong and Mongla ports are struggling to cope with increasing volumes of exports and imports.
UNDERGROUND METRO RAIL
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina instructed the planning ministry to conduct a feasibility study on constructing an underground rail network in the capital alongside the existing metro rail project.
"We will conduct a study on the prime minister's directive and will prepare a project plan based on the findings," Kamal said.
"Visiting World Bank Senior Vice President Kyle Peters has told me that the World Bank would finance one such underground railway project," he told journalists responding to the question as to how the government intended to fund the project.
The Ecnec yesterday also approved a Tk 458-crore project to construct five 20-storey buildings in Mirpur's Paikpara for government officials. The buildings will have a total of 608 flats, each between 1,000 and 1,250 square feet.
Another project costing Tk 105 crore got the Ecnec's approval. Planning commission employees will get 224 flats, between 650 and 800 square feet, in Taltola of Sher-e-Bangla Nagar under the project.