Neither Payra nor Matarbari is getting the depth of a deep seaport
At present, ships of at least 18 meters draft are anchored in deep seaports of different countries of the world. By 2025, 25 meter draft ships will be predominant in many ports. However, no seaport in Bangladesh has the depth required for such shipping.
Matarbari is still being given priority in the construction of deep seaports in the country. The government has also taken initiative to build a seaport at Payara in Patuakhali. Neither of these two ports has the depth to make a deep seaport. Although Matarbari port is considered for construction of deep seaport, the maximum depth capacity of the port is 13.6 meters. The maximum depth capacity of the port is 14 meters. The deepest seaport in the region, Singapore, has a depth of 24.5 meters, with Matarbari and Payra nearby.
The Royal Husking DHV of the Netherlands and the Bureau of Research, Testing and Consulting (BRTC) of the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) are working on a master plan for the port of Payra. The consulting firm has also prepared a comprehensive master plan for the strategic development plan for the Pigeon Port. There are details on port development vision, market forecasting, infrastructure construction and port development strategy. A comparative analysis of the maximum depth capabilities of the ports in the region has also been shown.
According to the consulting firm, among the two existing seaports in the country, the maximum depth capacity of Mongla port is 8 meters, and the maximum depth capacity of Chittagong port is 9.2 meters. On the other hand, the depth capacity of Matarbari and Pigeon to be built is not more than 14 meters, which is very inadequate considering the deep seaport. Because the draft ships that sail in deep seaports will not be able to dock in these ports.
In the master plan prepared by the consulting firm, two types of ships have been given priority for Bangladesh with ships using ports. It mentions ships of 6.8 to 12.01 meters for Chittagong port and Panamamax class ships of 10-14 meters draft for other ports. During the preparation of the planning report, the stakeholders discussed with the ship operators on import-export, especially with China. They have spoken of Panamamax class ships as the future standard. The consulting firm has also taken into account the income and expenditure of the port users in preparing the port development strategy.
An expert from the advisory team told Banik Barta on condition of anonymity that the ministry did not like the plan given by us. So we are formulating a plan again. The reality is that there is no seaport in Bangladesh, which has a river port. Because every port is inside the river. As a result, our suggestion was to build the port out of the river at sea or offshore, which would be useful from a commercial point of view.
According to him, a deep seaport requires a depth of at least 18 meters. But if it is an onshore or land port, it is not suitable for being a deep seaport.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the construction of Payra Seaport in Kalapara Upazila of Patuakhali District on November 19, 2013 with the aim of meeting the demand of the port as a result of expanding trade and commerce in the country.
The huge money spent on the construction of the seaport at Pigeon will require a large amount of capital dredging in the approach channel. Besides, regular dredging should also be done. According to the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), this will cost another-300-500 million a year. The port will be used to a very limited extent even after spending huge amount of money. In 2041, container transport will be less than five and a half lakh TEUS through Payra port. At present, 26 lakh TEUS containers are transported to Chittagong port annually. And in 2041 it will increase to about 69 lakh TEUS.
Experts say that if you want a depth of 14 meters in the port of Payra, the same depth will be required in the entire channel. But the path that will be used to go to the port of Pigeon or ‘Approach Way’ there is very little depth up to about 60 km. The amount to be excavated there will prevent ships from entering the port year-round.
Meanwhile, JICA has prepared a final survey report on the Matarbari port development project. In that report, the company has made a comparative estimate of the transportation of goods through Matarbari and Chittagong ports including pigeons. It has been said that by 2028, 34 lakh 9 thousand TEUs will be transported through Chittagong port. At that time only 4 lakh 70 thousand 528 TEUS will be transported through Payra port. Instead, there will be more container transport in Matarbari than pigeons, 9 lakh 99 thousand TEUS.
When asked, State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury told Banik Barta that there will be no deep seaport in Pigeon. The only deep seaport will be in Matarbari. Now the alternative we are not thinking. Pigeon fast terminal work is going on. Tender for construction of ancillary jetty has been declared. The Matarbari project will have a deep seaport. We are not thinking ahead until the end of the project.
The government plans to build a total of 19 components around the Pigeon Port, including economic zones, ready made garments, pharmaceutical industry, cement, coal-fired power plants, fish processing zones, fertilizer factories, oil refineries and shipbuilding industries. Under the medium term plan for the development of Pigeon Port, construction of first terminal, capital dredging and maintenance of Rabnabad channel, construction of dryblock / coal terminal, construction of multipurpose terminal with Indian loan assistance. In the long run, transshipment container terminal, deep water container terminal, offshore terminal / supply base, core port infrastructure, renewable power generation, housing education health facilities, construction of tow harbor tags, Other ministries have plans to implement airports, rail connectivity to Pigeon Port, shipyard and ship repair activities, liquid bulk terminal, LNG terminal etc. Important reports will be prepared with the assistance of BUET’s BRTC-led Royal Haskoning DHB, including feasibility study for the implementation of the plans, environmental and social impact assessment, procurement planning and preparation of procurement proposals. Preparation of Port Operation and Management Plan and Strategic Tariff Plan and feasibility study report for conversion to deep seaport will be available.