With the aim to improve navigability of 900km waterways, the government on Wednesday signed a financial agreement of US$ 360 million with World Bank (WB).
The improvement of waterways in Chittagong-Dhaka-Ashuganj Corridor and connecting routes would enable safe transport of passengers and cargo round the year.
Senior Secretary of Economic Relations Division (ERD) Mohammad Mejbahuddin and Qimiao Fan, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh put pen on the agreement paper in a ceremony, said a press release.
The Bangladesh Regional Waterway Transport Project-I will help reduce travel time and cost for cargo and passenger transport, and boost national and regional trade.
Under the project, one new general cargo terminal will be built at Pangaon, and the existing cargo terminal at Ashuganj will be improved. Authorities will also build new and rehabilitate existing passenger terminals at Sadarghat, Narayanganj, Chandpur, and Barisal.
To help the poor population living in remote areas, the project will construct 14 landing Ghats/stations in Chars (shoals), where often waterways are the only mode of transportation.
The terminals and landing stations will be built to improve the security, safety, and sanitation conditions, and incorporate the needs of female users, the elderly, and small traders, with women-only toilets and waiting rooms.
“The project will benefit traders, exporters and commuters by cutting down transport time and cost, and enhancing safety, even during night-time travels, which will lead to increased trade and investments,” said Qimiao Fan.
The project will help improve the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority’s capacity to comply with international standards and adopt modern management practices for inland water transport, and achieve long-term operational and financial sustainability.
“As a riverine country, the inland waterways play an important role in addressing transportation needs in Bangladesh, especially for the poor, as well as support trade,” said Mohammad Mejbahuddin.
“Realizing the importance, the Government of Bangladesh provided high priority to modernize the sector, and in particular improve the Chittagong-Dhaka-Ashuganj Corridor that carries the bulk of cargo and passenger transports,” he added.
The credit from the World Bank’s International Development Association, which provides grants or zero to low interest loans, has a 38-year term, including a six-year grace period, and a service charge of 0.75 percent.