The fourth seaport of the country – after Chattogram, Mongla, and Payra – will be set up at Matarbari in Cox's Bazar at an estimated cost of Tk17, 777 crore.
The port will have two separate 300-metre and 460-metre long terminals where ships with 8,000 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) containers – four times higher than the Chattogram Port – can dock because of the 16-meter draft at the port channel.
The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) approved the Matarbari Port Development Project on Tuesday in a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Planning Minister MA Mannan briefed reporters about the project details after the meeting.
The Chattogram Port Authority and the Roads and Highways Department will implement the Matarbari Port Development Project by December 2026.
Mannan said, "The Matarbari deep-sea port is not an emotionally-charged issue, but a necessity. The prime minister has instructed us to complete it quickly."
"The estimated costs of some of the project components are relatively high compared to the other ones. But it would not be fair to make such a comparison. The land characteristics and the biodiversity of Matarbari are different."
However, a feasibility study by the Japan International Cooperation Agency said that Matarbari deep-sea port is not economically viable, given the current demand. But Mannan argued that the port would boost Bangladesh's international trade and facilitate speedy port services with neighboring countries.
At present, ships greater than 190-metre length and 9.5-metre draft cannot dock at the jetties at Chattogram Port, forcing the authorities to carry containers by feeder vessels to and from mother vessels.
Once the project is completed, mother vessels will be able to dock at Matarbari Port, and this will boost the country's economic growth.
The planning minister said there is no possibility of a deep-sea port being set-up at Sonadia because the government has given the go-ahead for the Matarbari Project.
The planning minister added that Ecnec has also approved a project to build a 1,690-metre bridge over the Payra River on the Kachua-Betagi-Patuakhali-Lohalia-Kalaiya road at a cost of Tk1,042.28 crore. "Shirshendu Biswas, a fourth-grade student of Patuakhali Government Jubilee High School earlier, wrote a letter to the prime minister asking her to build a bridge over the Payra River."
Ecnec approved nine projects involving Tk24,113.27 crore, including the Matarbari Port Development Project.
"Of the total project cost, Tk6,151.26 crore will come from the government and Tk2,213.25 crore from the implementing agencies while the remaining Tk15,748.76 crore will be funded by foreign sources as project assistance."
The other projects approved in the meeting are the Lebukhali-Rampur-Mirzaganj Link Road, modernising the firing range of the Special Security Force , fisheries development in the Chattogram Hill Tracts region , nutrition development through producing fruits around the year (second revised) , protecting Pakerdaha under Madarganj upazila in Jamalpur and the Jamthol area under Sariakandi upazila in Bogra from erosion by the Jamuna River , construction of the headquarter of National Security Intelligence (second revised), and the Dhaka Sanitation Improvement Project.