Tokyo sight set on 2 deep-sea ports

Tokyo has shown its interest to construct two deep seaports at Matarbari and Kutubdia in the Bay of Bengal, officials said.

Responding to Tokyo’s willingness, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was expected to request formally her Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe to help build the deep seaports during the latter’s visit to Bangladesh last Saturday, according to a top government official.

Abe was expected to arrive in Dhaka Saturday on a day-long visit where the two premiers will discuss areas of bilateral economic cooperation.

Japanese aid-giving agency –the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) — has already come forward with nearly US$3.6 billion soft loan for setting up a coal-handling seaport at Matarbari.

Now it has shown interest to set up a full-fledged deep seaport there, said an official.

Under the Japanese $3.6 billion financial support, a 1,200-megawatt (MW) capacity coal-fired power plant and a township would also be developed at Matarbari in Maheshkhali Island.

Japan with the world’s second largest economy has preliminary chosen Matarbari and Kutubdia as the potential places for setting up the deep seaports.

Japan had also suggested the Bangladesh government to send a formal request letter through the Economic Relations Division to Tokyo for considering the proposed deep seaport projects, the official added.

Bangladesh had planned to build the deep seaport seven years ago in 2006 at Sonadia Island in the Bay.

The Netherlands government-owned company–Rotterdam Port, a Chinese company –China Harbour, and a UAE-based company DP World had submitted their expressions of interest to set up the port.

Government officials said the JICA has been discussing with the Power Division and the PMO for the last few months the issue of the deep seaport construction at Matarbari and Kutubdia.

Japan, in a letter, said that it was quite positive to support Bangladesh government, considering the enormous significance of deep seaports for Bangladesh’s economic development, officials said.

Bangladesh, an emerging economy with an annual trade of US$60 billion, conducted a feasibility study to construct the deep-sea port at Sonadia to develop the country as a regional hub.

Over 90 per cent of Bangladesh’s trade is dependent on the Chittagong Port, which handled over 1.1 million containers of twenty-foot equivalent unit last year.

The preliminary survey shows that the deep seaport will cater to demands of north-eastern India, Myanmar, Nepal, Bhutan and the south-western Chinese province of Yunnan.


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