Govt seeks Japanese, Korean funds for building port, ICT

Both provide low-cost loans bearing good grace period

| Updated: October 18, 2017 06:16:34

Govt seeks Japanese, Korean  funds for building port, ICT

The government sought funds from South Korea and Japan for building Paira seaport and Khanpur inland container terminal (ICT) in Narayanganj to lessen shipping pressure on Chittagong Port.


Two ministers made the appeal late last month, as funds from Japan and Korea are less costly and bear good grace period, officials said.


Finance Minister AMA Muhith made the request at a meeting with a delegation of Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation of Japan while Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan sought funds from South Korean DY Engineering by sending a letter.


The rate of interest on loans from the Sumitomo Corporation will be comparatively good. In this case, South Korea is best, followed by Japan and China, the finance minister told newsmen.


"We are ready with adequate funds to finance mega-projects in Bangladesh," an official of the Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation told the FE. "We want to expand our business here."


The Paira port, the third seaport of the country, is a priority project of the government. Being built in Patuakhali district, some 309 kilometres from Dhaka by road, the port will hopefully lessen pressure on the prime seaport in Chittagong. It is reeling from nagging congestions and struggling to handle growing trade.


Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in November 2013 formally inaugurated Paira port for limited operation before construction of a full-fledged port.


To begin construction work of the Paira port formally a joint-venture company comprising the Paira Port Authority and Belgium's Jan De Nul has already been formed. The company would soon start dredging of the main channel of the port under a US$600 million project.


On the other hand, shipping minister Mr Khan, in a letter to South Korean DY Engineering, sought cooperation in construction of Paira seaport and Khanpur Inland Container Terminal.


The project on building container terminal got cabinet approval in August 2013 and was supposed to be built under public-private partnership (PPP). Recently, the government decided to build the terminal with its own funds and, if available, adding foreign funds.


Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) chairman Mozammel Haque earlier told the FE construction of Khanpur ICT would help dilute congestions on the highways for timely carrying of export-import goods to and from seaports.


He said after completing customs procedure at factory level containers would directly be brought to the ICTs from where some will go to neighbouring countries through coastal routes and seaborne containers will go to Chittagong and Mongla ports.


Mr Haque said carrying goods through ICTs would be less time-consuming and also cut cost.


"Construction of more ICTs will also help in carrying containers from nearly a hundred economic zones under construction," he added.


The planned Khanpur ICT, presently a jetty operated by BIWTA, is situated on the Shitalakhya river in Narayanganj, in an area of around 14 acres. Khanpur has good connectivity through inland water routes and has good potential for commercial viability, say officials.


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