The Chattogram Port Authority will build a deep seaport at Matarbari in Cox's Bazar to provide docking facilities for ships with deep draft. It will be the country's deepest seaport.
Two terminals will be set up initially at Matarbari Port with lengths of 300 and 460 metres respectively. Ships with up to 16-metre draft and loaded with 8,000 (Twenty-foot equivalent unit – TEU) containers will be able to dock at the terminals.
Currently, large vessels cannot dock at the jetties of seaports in Bangladesh.
The cost of the 'Matarbari Port Development Project' is estimated at Tk17, 777 crore. The Chattogram Port Authority will implement the project with financing from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica).
The project cost includes Tk12,892.76 crore loan from Jica, Tk2,671 crore from the government fund, and the remaining Tk2,219.98 crore will be provided by the port authority.
Once the project is completed, mother vessels will be able to enter Matarbari Port, and this will contribute significantly to the country's economic growth, said officials of the Chattogram Port Authority.
The project is expected to be completed by December 2026.
A project proposal will be submitted to the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) tomorrow for approval, according to the Planning Commission.
The proposal mentions that 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.
Md Zafar Alam, a member of the Chattogram Port Authority (Administration and Planning), said a ship can directly carry 8,000 containers to Matarbari port. But at Chattogram port, six to seven vessels are used to bring in or carry out 4,000 containers a day. In such a situation, both the lead time and container handling cost will come down significantly once the Matarbari port goes into operation, he added.
Zafar said it will reduce environmental pollution as well because fewer vessels will be used to carry the goods.
At present, Chattogram port handles about 3,500-3,800 TEU cargo containers every day.
According to a study by Jica, a ship carrying a maximum of 2,000 TEU containers can enter this port. Whereas, ships with a much larger capacity can enter different ports of neighbouring countries, including Colombo port in Sri Lanka, Jawaharlal Nehru Port in Chennia and Karachi port in Pakistan.
Officials at the Chattogram Port Authority said in the second phase, they will build three more terminals at Matarbari under another project.
"Meanwhile, the channel for the Matarbari Port is being dredged. The depth of this channel is 16 metres right now, but it will be increased to 18.5-metre under the second phase. Using the current depth, a ship with a maximum draft of 15-metre can enter the channel," said Omar Faruq, secretary to the Chattogram Port Authority.
If Matarbari port is set up, it will allow large ships to dock directly there. Most of Bangladesh's imports come from China, so it will be easier to bring in large container ships to the facility directly from China.