- Tk300cr revenue earned from 134 commercial cargos that entered the port
- Existing depth 6.3m
- After dredging, the channel's width will be 100-125m and depth 10.5m
- The cost of the three-year dredging project Tk4,950cr
- Chattogram port's draft is 9.5m
The Payra Port Authority (PPA) on Sunday signed a contract with Belgian company Jan De Nul for capital and maintenance dredging of the Rabnabad channel at the port.
With this, the process has been started to build the Payra Sea Port as a regular port.
Jan de Nul will dredge a 75km stretch of the channel, ensuring a draft of 10.5 metres that will allow entry and anchoring of ships having a carrying capacity of 40,000 tonnes (during low tide) to 55,000 tonnes (during high tide).
The three-year project involves a cost of Tk4,950 crore. The government will provide the funding from its own resources.
Commodore Humayun Kallol, chairman of the Payra Port Authority, and Jan Moens, project director of Jan de Nul, signed the contract on behalf of their respective sides at the Radisson Blu Dhaka Water Garden.
Planning Minister MA Mannan attended the signing ceremony as chief guest, while State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury spoke as special guest.
The planning minister said once complete, the Payra Sea Port will bring about a radical change in the southern region of the country.
"The port will help to create employment for many people in the region by accelerating industrial, commercial and tourism infrastructure," he explained.
Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury said, "Commercial goods could be transported from this port to all parts of the country including the capital through the Padma Bridge at the fastest time and cheapest cost."
"Apart from this, commercial goods could be transported to neighbouring countries including India, Nepal and Bhutan. The country's products will be more competitive in the international market," he added.
Dr Ahmad Kaikaus, principal secretary to the prime minister; Md Toffazel Hossain Miah, the PM's office secretary; and Mohammed Mezbah Uddion Chowdhury, secretary to the shipping ministry, among others, also spoke at the programme.
Financing started from the BIDF
Even though the government had previously signed a Public Private Partnership (PPP) contract involving Tk11,000 crore with Jan de Nul to build the port with foreign investment, the company was having problems in arranging funds on its own.
Meanwhile, the government revised its plan and decided to downgrade the deep sea port project to a regular sea port project and fund the capital dredging work by the newly formed Bangladesh Infrastructure Development Fund (BIDF).
This decision has slashed the project cost by 53%.
The fund was created with the Bangladesh Bank's reserve and inaugurated on 15 March this year.
With Sunday's contract, the BIDF has also got the opportunity to finance a project for the first time.
The cost of the Payra Sea Port project that has 19 components had originally been estimated at $11-$15 billion and was supposed to be completed in three phases.
The Rabnabad channel is situated in the Meghna estuary of the River Tentulia in Patuakhali.
It is about 270 kilometres from the Chattogram port and 90 kilometres from the Mongla port.
This site was chosen as it has available land along the channel with an average height of two metres above the sea level. The land does not get submerged during the monsoon and it is well-connected by road and river networks.