The Chittagong Port Authority in Bangladesh has sought government intervention to select suitable financiers as it grapples with late proposals from China, South Korea and Singapore to construct and operate the proposed Bay Terminal in addition to partial investment plans by India and Asian Development Bank.
Officials of the shipping ministry and the port authority said that state-owned China Merchants Group and the government of South Korea in their proposals wanted to construct and operate the terminal while Singapore PSA expressed willingness only to operate it.
The terminal – one multipurpose terminal and two container terminals – would be constructed at an estimated cost of $2.1 billion aiming to facilitate growing external trade and easing congestion at the main sea port of Bangladesh, they said.
They also said that India proposed to construct the multipurpose terminal providing $400 million while the Asian Development Bank had shown interest to fund the construction of breakwater – an artificial offshore structure to protect a harbour, anchorage, or marina basin from waves.
Chittagong Port Authority member (admin and planning) Zafar Alam told New Age on Saturday that they already submitted investment proposals of the willing parties to the shipping ministry.
He said that the shipping ministry was supposed to consult with officials of the Prime Minister’s Office for selecting a suitable investor or investors.
Officials attending an inter-ministerial meeting at shipping ministry on July 9 observed that the government should select the investor considering ‘geo politics.’
The meeting also observed that the terminal should be given to a single investor instead of investors for timely implementation of the project and optimum benefit, the officials said.
Chittagong port, which accounts for 80 per cent of the external and internal trade worth about $70 billion and handles vessels of up to 1,200 TEU (twenty equivalent units) and with a depth of less than 9.5 metres, has long been looking for improving infrastructures to host bigger vessels.
Earlier, shipping minister Shajahan Khan said that steps would be taken to fast-track the project to be closely monitored by the Prime Minister’s Office and that would help remove bottlenecks, and provide input to expedite its construction.
A Chittagong Port Authority official said they were hopeful of making operational at least one terminal of the project by 2021.
In a feasibility study, Hamburg Port Consulting estimated that the project would require about $2.4 billion.
According to officials, vessels of more than 190 metres (623 feet) in length and up to 13 metres in depth will be able to berth at the new terminal.
The Strategic Master Plan for Chittagong Port, prepared by Hamburg Port Consulting, said that the Bay Terminal will be able to accommodate vessels of up to 5,000 TEU.
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