State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury, MP said the Awami League (AL) government has been working for the development of waterways since coming to power. The present government is working on the capacity of the country’s waterways to reduce the pressure of freight vehicles on the highways. The development of independent Bangladesh was halted on 15 August 1975 with the assassination of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his family. After 1975, the government did not develop the country’s waterways in any way. After that, Bangabandhu’s daughter Sheikh Hasina came to power and started rescuing and developing the country’s waterways. With the completion of the two agreements that have been signed Saturday, the progress of Bangladesh’s waterways will be enhanced by the use of cargo vehicles and passengers will be able to reach their destinations with more ease. He was speaking as the chief guest at the signing ceremony of an agreement on excavation of waterways to enhance the capacity of the Chittagong-Dhaka-Ashuganj maritime corridor at Hotel Radisson in Dhaka Saturday.
Agreement on construction of Chittagong-Dhaka-Ashuganj and ancillary waterways and construction of terminal ancillary facilities with World Bank funding to develop capacity and safety system of maritime corridor in Chittagong-Dhaka-Ashuganj region for transport of passengers and goods by inland waterways and to establish it as a sustainable sector. A seminar was held at Hotel Radisson in Dhaka.
State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury signed the agreement in the presence of MP, Project Director BIWTA Additional Chief Engineer Md. Ayub Ali, Managing Director of Karnafuli Ship Builders Ltd. Engineer Abdur Rashid on behalf of the contractor Gulf Kabla-Karnafuli Joint Venture, Md. Ainul Islam. Among others, Secretary of the Ministry of Shipping Mohammad Mezbah Uddin Chowdhury, Chairman of the River Protection Commission Manjur Ahmed Chowdhury and Chairman of the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) Commodore Golam Sadeq were present. According to the agreement, development and conservation excavation work of 13 navigable routes will be carried out by Gulf Kabla-Karnafuli joint venture and Dharti-Banga joint venture. It will cost 430 crore taka.
Under the project, about 900 km of waterways will be excavated, cyclone shelters will be constructed at 06 places, dredging will be done at 3 ferry crossing areas, construction and development of 4 passenger and 2 cargo terminals, construction of 15 landing stations and procurement of 2 multipurpose vessels will be done. Under the project, maintenance and navigability of main rivers and tributaries (about 900 km of waterways) in Ashuganj, Narayanganj and Barisal of Dhaka-Chittagong corridor will be maintained through performance based contract dredging. Construction of cyclone shelters for boats at 06 places in this naval corridor. Initially selected places are: Shatnal, Charbhairavi, Chandpur, Mehendiganj, Sandwip and Nalchira; Conservation dredging in the area of 3 ferry crossings of the said route (Chandpur-Shariatpur, Laxmipur-Bhola and Veduria-Laharhat); Construction and development of 4 passenger terminals (Dhaka crematorium, Narayanganj, Chandpur and Barisal) and construction and development of 2 cargo terminals (Pangaon and Ashuganj); Various places of the corridor (Bhairab Bazar, Alu Bazar, Harina, Hijla, Majuchowdhury, Ilisha (Bhola), Veduria, Laharhat, Baddarhat, Daulatkhan, Chairmanghat (Char Bata), Sandwip, Tajumuddin, Monpura and Tammuding 2 Vessels will be collected.
It is to be noted that the Chittagong-Dhaka-Ashuganj Naval Corridor and the extension of Narayanganj and Barisal are identified as the most important and priority routes for inland trade and bilateral trade with India. About 80% of the country’s inland vessels pass through this corridor and about 2 (two) lakh passengers use these waterways daily. The duration of the project is till 31st December 2025. The estimated cost of the project is Tk. 3349.42 crore. Of which World Bank’s Project Assistance (PA) is Tk. 3052.60 crore and Government of Bangladesh (GoB) is Tk. 296.62 crore. The project will be implemented by Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA).