In an effort which is expected to give a boost to apparel exports while also taking some load off the overburdened Chittagong Port (which handles bulk of Bangladesh’s imports and exports), the Payra Port Authority (PPA) recently signed a deal with a Belgian company (Jan De Nul) to start capital dredging of the Payra’s main channel Rabnabad to help entry of large ships that cannot berth now at Chittagong and Mongla ports.
As per the agreement signed by Chairman of Payra Port Authority Commodore Jahangir Alam and Chairman of Jan De Nul David Jonckheere in Dhaka, Payra Dredging Company Limited (a subsidiary of Jan De Nul) will implement the project under the supervision of Jan De Nul at an estimated cost of Taka 86.43 billion. In addition to the capital dredging, the Belgian company will also be responsible for maintenance of the Rabnabad channel for 12 years.
The dredging of the 75-kilometre long and 100 to 125 metres wide channel is expected to begin in the next six months.
Earlier in December 2017, the PPA and Jan De Nul formed a joint venture company, of which PPA has a share of 51 per cent and the Belgium-based company has the rest.
As per reports, it will take 14 months for the engineering survey of the project and the capital dredging 14 more months. It will also take six months for the primary maintenance dredging and 9.2 years for maintenance dredging.
The completion of dredging will reportedly help ease the pressure on the two ports — Chittagong and Mongla, which continue to face challenges in handling growing volume of containers and cargos due to rising exports and imports — according to concerned officials.
The Chittagong Port, the country’s biggest seaport, can now allow entry of ships with draughts of up to 9.5 metres at high tide, while vessels with draughts of up to 7-8 metres can enter the Mongla Port.
Once the dredging is completed, vessels with draught of up to 12 metres will be able to anchor at the Payra Port.
It may be mentioned here that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in August 2016 formally inaugurated the operational activities of the Payra Port.