The government plans to dredge the inner bar of the Mongla Port channel to facilitate the anchoring of container ships with drafts of 9.5-10 metres at the port.
The Tk793.73 crore project will be placed before the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) on Tuesday for approval with the implementation deadline of June 2022.
After dredging, the depth of the channel from Joymonirghol to the jetty of the port (inner bar) will increase to 8.5 metres.
Besides, another dredging project for the outer bar of the Pasur River channel has been going on to increase the depth of the river to 8.5 metres at a cost of Tk712 crore.
The inner bar extends from the Mongla Port jetty to Joymonirghol while the outer bar stretches from the Bay of Bengal to the Mongla Port channel.
As per the project proposal, the Mongla Port was set up on the east bank of the Pasur River, approximately 131 kilometres upstream of the Bay of Bengal. The depth of around 30km area of the river is five to six metres.
The goal of the dredging project is to increase the navigability of the Mongla Port channel for handling ships with drafts of 9.5-10 metres in a bid to utilise the port, it added.
At the moment, ships with drafts of above 8.5 metres cannot go through the outer bar of the port. Due to poor navigability, larger ships cannot anchor at the port.
This is increasing the cost and time of cargo transportation.
Mongla Port Authority's Head of Planning Md Jahirul Haque said the port's potential is increasing gradually but larger ships cannot anchor there due to the channel's poor navigability.
"Once dredging of the inner and outer bars is finished, container ships with drafts of up to 10 metres will be able to anchor at the port. With this, the capacity of the port will increase," he said.
Jahirul also said the port handled 54,000 containers last year.
"Once the Padma bridge is completed, the significance of the port will increase. Also, work to establish the port's road-rail link is going on. So, the port's potential is growing gradually," he explained.
As per a survey conducted by the Khulna University of Engineering and Technology, the port has the potential of handling 8.72 lakh TEU (twenty-foot equivalent) containers in 2025, and 45.32 lakh containers as well as over 30,000 vehicles in 2050.
Once Rampal coal-fired power plant is completed, 45 lakh tonnes of raw materials of the plant will be imported annually through the Mongla Port. The port can also be used to import raw materials of Rooppur nuclear power plant.