The implementation of the Matarbari Port Development Project , financed by Japan’s JICA, has officially begun . It aims at constructing a deep seaport at Maheshkhali in Cox’s Bazar by 2025.A similar Chinese proposal for a deep sea port at Sonadia has been shelved .Bangladesh’s booming economy , with rising exports and imports, has created the need for new ports as the British-era Chittagong port is just not enough to cope with the burgeoning demand .
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is an official agency that coordinates Official Development Assistance for Japan government.
JICA ‘s charter provides for assistance to boost economic and social growth in developing countries, and foster international cooperation.
On 21st March 2019 , JICA presented the Moheshkhali – Matarbari integrated infrastructure development proposal to the Bangladesh government.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said that she has taken initiative to develop the Matarbari – Moheshkhali integrated area on the Singapore model.
The industries and factories will be built around the proposed power and energy hub in Matarbari.
Hasina told the Japanese she is keen to have a modern world-class Deep Seaport at Matarbari. JICA officials have said that the deep seaport they are offering to build in Matarbari will have an 18.7 metre draft that would make it easy for Panamax vessels to dock in.
The draft at the existing Chittagong seaport is barely 9 Metres and it is barely 7 metres at Mongla port.
The proposed Payra sea port will be able to handle huge ships because it will have a 14 metre draft.
The Matarbari deep sea port , gifted with a 18.7 meter draft, will help Bangladesh emerge as a coastal hub in eastern slice of South Asia.
There are only two deep seaports with this 18 meter drafts facility in the world — one in Sri Lanka, the other in Dubai.
With an 18-meter draft, ships with one lakh containers will be able to berth in Matarbari Deep Seaport .JICA has committed to PM Hasina that they will finish the first phase of the Matarbari project by 2024.
This port will be administered by the Chittagong Port Authority, like Haldia is by the Calcutta Port Trust..
Chattogram Port Authority Chairman Rear Admiral SM Abul Kalam Azad said the Matarbari port is initially designed to handle 6 lakh containers. ” If the number of jetties increases later, the capacity will indeed increase at a later stage.”
He said that once the construction of Tk 17,777crore deep seaport ends by mid-2025, ships with a depth of 18.5 meters will be able to dock at the terminal of Matarbari Port.
They will located at Matarbari and Dhalghat areas of Maheshkhali with funding from the Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA).
Azad said 92% of Bangladesh’s current foreign trade is conducted through Chittagong Port.
But with a booming economy and the growth in exports and imports, the British era port is stretched beyong capacity.The Matarbari port will end that dependence, Azad said.
Project director Zafar Alam said work on finalising the Matarbari project was not affected by the Covid pandemic.
“The consultants of Matarbari project carried out their duty despite facing the risk of being infected. We hope that the construction of the port will be completed six months ahead of schedule in 2025.”
He also said the turnaround time for unloading goods at Matarbari port will be three days less than that of Chittagong Port.
Meanwhile, Oriental Consultant Global Company will provide consultancy to the Roads and Highways Department of Bangladesh on the construction of an approach road to the port. Its consultancy fee is Tk446crore.
JICA has proposed to build a long-term power and energy hub around Matarbari deep seaport region at the end of 2041, According to their plan.
Investment of about 20 billion US dollars will be required for the integrated development projects of Maheshkhali – Matarbari. JICA offered nearly half of the amount which is $ 10, 240 million in credit support. In local currencies the amount is about Tk 86 thousand Crore .