The government yesterday signed a $360 million financing agreement with the World Bank to improve navigability of 900-kilometre inland waterways along the Chittagong-Dhaka-Ashuganj corridor and connecting routes.
The project will ensure year-round safe transport for passengers and cargo along the country's busiest waterways, according to a statement.
The Bangladesh Regional Waterway Transport Project 1 will help reduce travel time and cost for cargo and passenger transport, and boost national and regional trade. The project will build one new general cargo terminal in Pangaon, and improve the existing cargo terminal in Ashuganj.
It will also build new and rehabilitate existing passenger terminals in 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 waterways are often 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 inland water transportation sector can play an important role in improving domestic connectivity and regional integration. The project will benefit traders, exporters and commuters by cutting down transport time and cost,” said Qimiao Fan, World Bank country director for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal.
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.
The agreement was signed by Qimiao Fan and Mohammad Mejbahuddin, senior secretary of the Economic Relations Division of the Bangladesh government, at ERD office.
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.