The project titled “Khanpur Inland Container and Bulk Terminal” involving an estimated cost of Tk392 crore will be placed before the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) meeting on Tuesday
The government wants to build an inland container terminal on the Shitalakhya River, just eight kilometres far from the Pangaon Inland Container Terminal.
The terminal will be constructed at the Khanpur area in Narayanganj city.
The project titled "Khanpur Inland Container and Bulk Terminal" involving an estimated cost of Tk392 crore will be placed before the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) meeting on Tuesday.
The Ministry of Shipping has proposed for the terminal aiming to ease water transportation of goods from the Chattogram port to the capital.
With the same target of fluvial transport of goods from the port city to Dhaka, the Pangaon Inland Container Depot (ICD) was launched in 2013. The handling capacity of the depot is 1.16 lakh containers per year, but the terminal handled merely 22,508 containers in the last year.
Entrepreneurs are not interested in using the Pangaon terminal due to a shortage of vessels, a lack of available schedules, and charging of waiting containers at Chattogram port.
The Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority will complete the new container terminal by December of 2022 once it gets Ecnec clearance.
Entrepreneurs said the output of the new project will be poor if it faces the same issues like the Pangaon terminal.
The Planning Commission however said the Khanpur terminal will enhance the regional and sub-regional trade capacity ensuring easy transportation of goods from Chattogram, Mongla and other sea ports.
The terminal is also expected to speed up container and bulk transport in Dhaka and outskirts encouraging the investors. The project will also enable container transport to northern districts, the Planning Commission feels.
The project proposal made by the shipping ministry said Narayanganj was known as Dandy of the East due to the rich jute industry. The district is now home to various industries including the ready-made garments, cement, and hosiery.
The headquarters of the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association, Hosiery Industries and Bangladesh Jute Association are also located in Narayanganj.
The BSCIC industrial area at Fatullah in the district accommodates 1,200 to 1,500 ready-made garment production units. Besides, Fatullah is well-known for salt factories, and wholesale market of construction materials.
The Khanpur terminal project has been planned in view of the geographic position of Narayanganj prioritising container transport to modernize the Narayanganj river port.
Md Hatem, first vice-president president of the Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said Khanpur needs a modern terminal.
He, however, suggested widening the roads of the area prior to taking up the project. The businessman also advocated for learning lessons from Pangaon.
Jakir Hosen, general secretary of Chattogram C&F Agents Employees Association, said currently four ships carry containers from Chattogram to Dhaka. He believed a shortage of vessels is discouraging the entrepreneurs.
Shamima Nargis, member of the Physical Infrastructure Division at the Planning Commission, said, "Once implemented, the Khanpur terminal project will ease container transportation from Chattogram, Mongla and other ports to Dhaka."
PPP project to go for government funding
After a survey in association with the PricewaterhouseCoopers, the Khanpur inland terminal got the policy approval as a Public Private Partnership (PPP) project. But now it goes for government funding.
Rafique Ahmed Siddique, joint chief of the shipping ministry said the project goes for government funding as no investor turned up in last eight years.
Acknowledging that Pangaon terminal is half-used, the government official however claimed several ongoing projects will stretch maritime routes to nearly 10,000 kilometres.
There is a specific directive from the Prime Minister on Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects. It says the PPP will cover at least 30 percent infrastructural development.
The Planning Commission has also its own guidance on PPP project.
The proposal of Khanpur terminal said the project has been proposed for government funding as it failed to draw any investor even after a long time of the policy approval.