A project to set up Laldia Multipurpose Terminal was approved seven years ago, but still the there was almost no progress in its work.
The Chattogram Port Authority took up the Laldia Terminal project as the first Public-Private Pertnership Project (PPP) to increase the operational performance of the port, and to reduce the average time a ship stays there.
However, Chairman of Chattogram Port Authority Rear Admiral SM Abul Kalam Azad, told The Business Standard, "We are not working on Laldia Terminal now. The port is not going to realise the project for now. Our next projects are Bay terminal are Matarbari Deep Sea Port."
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the the project worth $301.6 million on March 11, 2013. A Canadian consulting firm named MM Group submitted the final feasibility report for the project in September 2016.
According to the PPP authority, the project's developed period was from 2014-2015 and the procurement period was from 2015-2016.
Initially the project was supposed to be realised as a bulk terminal, but later the government decided to build it as a multipurpose terminal, which can handle both bulk and containers.
On April 25, 2019 the outgoing chairman of the Chattogram Port Auhtority Rear Admiral Zulfiqar Aziz said the port authority is working at full speed to finish building the terminal by 2021 and open it in 2022.
However, after one year, the port autirity said currently they are not willing to advance the project.
Md Robiul Alam, PPP authority's director (project management and finance), said, "The Laldia Terminal project is currently at tendering stage. Five companies were short listed for the project."
"There are some illegal establishments in the area proposed for the project. Complications have arisen over evacuating the families from the land and rehabilitating them. This is hindering the prioject severely."
Around 1,700 families living illegally in the project area is one of the main problems in realising the project. Despite several attempts, the port authority could not evacuate the land in face of resistance from the local political leaders.
India's Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd, Dubai-based company DP World, Frech company Bolloré SA, Baijing's CHaina Harbour and Engineering Company Ltd and Singapore's Global Port Services were shortlisted for building the Laldia Terminal.
In July 2019 the port authority reclaimed 200 acres of land by evacuating 200 families, the process halted later.
Mahbubul Alam, president of Chattogram Chamber of Commerce, told The Business Standard, "Finishing the construction of the Laldia Terminal is necessary to cope up with the speed of the expansion of trade and commerce. It is not unserstandable why the port authority would move on from the project seven years after it was imporved."
Opining that the government can rehabilitate the people in the Laldia area in some other place, Mahbubul urged authorities concerned to implement the project swiftly.
Meanwhile, port users and public representatives raised objections over some conditions about realising the project during a meeting in 2018.
A cource at the Chattogram port said although most of the projects at the port were financed by the state, the Laldia Terminal was financed by foreigne companies, who have some conditions. And the company that will be in charge of running the terminal will also have some conditions, which is contradictory to the Chattogram port's interest, said some of the concerned officials.
One of these conditions is that the Laldia Terminals has to handle 3 lakh Twenty-Foot Equivalent Unit or TEUs of container per year. If the terminal cannot do that, port authority has to conmpensate for it.
A senior official of the Chattogram Port said, "Only the importer can decide where to handle the containers. Why the port should take responsibility if an importer does not want to handle his container at the Laldia Terminal, once it is built?"
Chattogram Port's Chief Engineer (Civil) and Director of the Laldia Multipurpose Terminal Porject Mahmudul Hossain Khan refused to comment regarding the matter.