In order to enable Mongla port to cope with growing cargo pressure and contribute to the regional trade network, the shipping ministry wants to double its cargo handling capacity and increase its container-handling ability four-fold.
To meet the target, the ministry has proposed a project of building two container terminals, a container handling yard, a container delivery yard, a vessel jetty and some other infrastructure in the port.
The project will cost an estimated Tk6014.62 crore in total. The Indian Exim Bank will provide Tk4459.41 ($530 million), with the remaining money coming from government funds.
The Planning Commission has already reviewed the proposal and will place it at the meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) today for final approval.
The Mongla Port Authority will implement the project by June 2024, beginning from January this year.
Md Jahirul Haque, chief (planning) of the Mongla Port Authority, said the port at present can handle about 1.5 crore tonnes of cargo and about one lakh TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units of containers).
The implementation of the project would increase the port's handling capacity by additional 1.5 crore tonnes of cargo and four lakh TEUs.
Currently, the port can have 35 ships moored at its six jetties. A lack of enough container jetties hampers the transport of goods.
According to the Mongla Port Authority, the port's handling of sea-going ships and goods has increased by over 65 percent and almost 95 percent, in that order, in the last four fiscal years, from 2015-16 to 2018-19.
The shipping ministry said the geo-strategic location of the Mongla port is important against a background of international trade.
The port could play a significant role in boosting trade among regional nations. It will also help the border areas of India, Nepal and Bhutan, and the western region of Bangladesh in transporting goods among themselves, they added.
Once completed, the project will be a major contributor to connectivity in the BBIN region covering Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal, the shipping ministry hoped.
It would also boost business in the Eastern South Asian region through Mongla, the second-largest seaport of the country.
Meanwhile, the ministry revised the amount of Indian credit for the project to $530 million from the previous $627.49 million, according to Mongla Port Authority Chief Jahirul Haque.
The Planning Commission, at the Project Evaluation Committee meeting to review the proposal, wanted to know from the ministry why the amount of the Indian loan had been reduced.
In reply, the ministry said India provides loan with a condition of purchasing equipment from it. But any of their firms is not able to provide all equipment for the project, leading the ministry to reduce dependence on Indian loan, added Jahirul.
Shamima Nargis, a member of the physical infrastructure division of the Planning Commission, said implementation of the project will open up a new vista of regional and international trade.
According to the project proposal, the Mongla port will come under added pressure once development projects, including the construction of Padma Bridge, Rampal coal power station, Mongla special economic zone and Rooppur nuclear power plant, and the development of Dhaka-Mawa-Mongla road and Khan Jahan Ali Airport, are completed.
That is the reason why the shipping ministry recommends the project in order to enhance the port's capacity, reads the proposal.