Relocating Kamalapur ICD: Forever stuck in quagmire
It has been 16 years since an initiative to relocate the oversaturated Kamalapur Inland Container Depot (ICD) to Gazipur's Dhirasram was taken but the project is yet to see the light of day.
After the 2007 initiative, three feasibility studies by Chattogram Port Authority (CPA), the Public-Private Partnership Authority (PPPA), and Bangladesh Railway (BR) were carried out but things hardly moved since then.
The BR tried to get things moving and in March 2021 submitted to the Planning Commission a Development Project Proposal (DPP) for land acquisition for the ICD. Several meetings were held over the last three years but the project was not approved.
Meanwhile, a top official of the Planning Commission is now asking the BR to change the location selected for the new ICD, railway sources said.
It appears the only hope for the project is with the Prime Minister's Office, which has called a meeting today to discuss the Dhirasram ICD and Kamalapur Multimodal Transport Hub, they said.
Shahidul Islam, additional director general (infrastructure) of BR, told The Daily Star last night, "The meeting is to discuss the current status, progress made, and related issues."
Secretaries of the railways and shipping ministries and the Planning Division; member (physical infrastructure division) of the Planning Commission; the chief executive office of the PPPA; and director general of BR are supposed to attend the meeting, with the prime minister's principal secretary in the chair.
The CPA in 2007 carried out a feasibility study with funding from the World Bank to build an ICD at Dhirasram.
But it was later decided that the PPP model would be used and the PPPA carried out a feasibility study, which was completed in 2017.
The project was listed for implementation under government-to-government PPP model with Japan but was dropped from the list in December 2019.
The BR in 2019 did its feasibility study with funds from the Asian Development Bank. The study recommended that the ICD be built near Dhirasram Railway Station for better connectivity with Chattogram and because Gazipur is an industrial hub.
BR sources said 70 percent of the containers handled by the CPA are destined for Dhaka but the BR can carry only 10 percent of them due to the handling capacity constraints of the Kamalapur ICD.
The railway authorities had planned to carry half the containers headed for Dhaka but the Kamalapur ICD is not capable. Besides, heavy vehicles are restricted in Dhaka city during the day, which causes delivery delays, BR sources said.
The planned transport hub at Kamalapur also prevents the BR from increasing capacity at the ICD.
Considering all these, the BR drew a detailed design for the ICD at Dhirasram and the rail links and submitted the DPP for acquiring land in March 2021.
Following the directives of the Planning Commission, the BR changed the DPP several times. A team from the Planning Commission, led by a joint secretary, visited the proposed site in November last year and gave the go ahead for land acquisition, according to documents.
A total of Tk 3,402 crore would be needed for acquiring 230.94 acres.
Before this, a meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in June last year decided that the structures of the ICD would be built under a separate project funded by the ADB and its operations can be handled under PPP.
The BR held meetings with the ADB and the lender committed to provide $289.82 million, BR sources said.
But the BR is now in a pickle after a top official of the Planning Commission verbally asked it to build the ICD somewhere other than Dhirasram.
"If the site has to be changed, then a new feasibility study has to be done which would take three more years. We can't afford any more delays for the ICD," a top BR official told The Daily Star seeking anonymity.