Competition among three major powers for building a deep sea port in Bangladesh has slowed down the implementation of the much-needed infrastructure, says a global specialised magazine.
In an article published on Tuesday, US-based biweekly magazine joc.com observed that the competition to develop the modern port facilities has intensified following the recent visit of Chinese president Xi Jinping to Bangladesh.
“China, Japan, and India fight for the right to provide financing, and with that a ticket to build their influence in the country and in the region,” wrote Turloch Mooney, senior editor of the Global Ports in the article.
During the presidential visit, China committed $24 billion for development of infrastructure projects.
But, the magazine that focuses on trade topics pointed out that no details were provided on investment in port infrastructure despite years of attempts on the part of Beijing to finance the construction of a new deep-sea port in the country.
The article mentioned that after 10 years of average annual GDP growth of 6 per cent, Bangladesh desperately needs modern port infrastructure.
More than 90 per cent of its foreign trade and almost all of its containers are currently handled by Chittagong port.
The article said essentially a river port, located 16 kilometres up the Karnaphuli river from the Bay of Bengal, Chittagong has a draft of only 9.2 meters (30 feet), requiring the costly practice of transferring cargo from large to small vessels before berthing and discharge.
The article said more than half of the cargo berths at the port’s three main terminals, some of which date back to the 1940s, are in poor condition, and the port is regularly congested.
Beijing was originally due to build a new deep sea port at Sonadia in the south of Bangladesh.
The article said the Chinese project was scrapped following what is thought to have been intense political pressure from India and the United States, both of whom are concerned over China’s growing influence in the Indian ocean region.
Japan has been making better headway recently. Earlier this year, the article pointed out, a signing ceremony took place for a multi-billion dollar port and power plant project in Matarbari in the south of Bangladesh.
Source: Prothom Alo