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5 March, 2018 00:00 00 AM

Development of waterways and economic growth

In Bangladseh, inland waterway routes have suffered a gradual decline not only in navigable length but also in service quality and safety standards
Md. Atikur Rahman
Development of waterways and 
economic growth

Though Bangladesh was a riverine country, we were always indifferent to our river ports and the navigability required for one-sixth of the total waterway for the water transport. If the time of acquiring the goods in the ports and collection of the necessary documents is possible, then our business expenses will be greatly reduced. It is absolutely necessary to increase the efficiency of communication infrastructure with Chittagong port, expansion of the port's storage management and improving the delivery of port services. The government has made a breakthrough in the development of the country's waterways by establishing Pangaon and Paira bandar. Presently, under the Pangaon Port Authority, there are three vessels, two from Bangladesh Navy, three by BIWTC and 50 vessels owned by private ownership. Though Mongla Port was operated for a long time, there is no crane for the container handling of the bigger ships.

In addition to the government, there is need to emphasize policies and legislation in the development of ports owned by private ownership. There is a proposal to set up a deep sea lagging port. But there is no progress till now. At the same time, the businessmen of the country will have to come forward to expand the storage management in the industrial and economic zones to preserve the products produced. Inter-regional trade among South Asian countries is less than in other regions of the world. In the meantime, they offer the facilities of all types of cargo handling facilities of the inner river ports and call for the necessary policy formulation and reform. An authority can also be formed as 'National Maritime and Port Authority'.

At present, economic growth is more than 7 per cent, but if it is reformed in the skill development and the necessary policies, it is possible to increase this trend of growth from 8.5 per cent to 9 per cent. For this, the government will have to put  emphasis on improving the infrastructure of all seaports, river ports, and land ports and improve the skills of human resources employed. In order to effectively implement transshipment with India, there is a need for high-level talks with India. If the transshipment system is started, there is no possibility of decreasing the revenue, but overall economic activities along with our port will be increased. In  the quickest time, special attention should be given to increase the management skills of the Customs Department for the acquisition of the product.

We are dependent on roads and railways in the transport of container transport from Chittagong port. But in this case, if the use of waterways can be increased, then the time, money and expenditure will be significantly reduced. In this regard, the concerned economic zones will have to pay more attention to the concerned people for formulating and implementing effective plans to increase connectivity with the waterways and seaports.

Although there are now four major obstacles to achieving the economic growth of the country those are an infrastructural weakness, power and energy deficit, political uncertainty and the demand of international markets (Bangladeshi goods) and the domestic market. Gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the current fiscal year will be reduced from 5 to 6 per cent. Similarly, the central bank also said that the rate of growth will drop to 6.5 per cent.

The target of achieving 7.1 per cent growths in the original budget of this fiscal year was set. Recently it has reduced to 6.7 per cent. However, during the question hour in the Jatiya Sangsad  it was decided to dig 178 rivers for activating   491 naval routes in the country.

The length of the internal waterway is currently 6,000 kilometers in the rainy season and 4,000 kilometers in the dry season. In order to increase the internal waterways, the construction of 12 waterways is being done under the capital dredging of 53 waterways across the country. During the year 2008-09, 1200 km of waterways has been increased by excavation, and in future, more 178 rivers will be excavated under the special plan to increase waterways. If the implementation of the projects is done, the overall growth of the country will increase as quickly as possible.

What we cannot do is to look at this debt of nature. Rivers will be able to play a special role in protecting the country's economy, increasing employment opportunity. The government has taken special plans to restore the navigability of the 491 naval routes of the country. Under this project, 178 rivers will be excavated. As part of which, the project of dumping of capital dredging (1st phase: 24 waterways) and 12 important waterways projects in the internal route of the domestic route is currently underway. The study of the Baleshwar-Piara river routes and navigability development of old Brahmaputra, Dharla, Dudhkumar, Purnabhaba, Tulai and Soya river has been completed. Currently, the process of authentication is underway. Besides, the probability study of the coordinated river management is underway, due to increase in drainage, drainage system, tourism, wetland, ecosystem, irrigation and landing facilities by Capital Dredging of 18 rivers like Sangu, Matamuhuri, Karnafuli, Ghaghat, Banar Lower, Naga, Zaini, Gomati, and Haor areas which is encouraging.

Currently, 16 ferries are operating on the Aricha and Daultia river routes. On an  average, 4,400 cars are being ferried daily. Occasionally there are obstacles in the movement of ferries.  Those are lack of navigability, and fog during winter. Vehicles get stranded due to the increase in the number of auto systems. There are currently four rescue vessels in the country. Work is going on to purchase high-quality 2 toddies through Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC). Besides, Chittagong, Mongla and Paira port authorities are also in the process of purchasing more high-quality ones.

The writer is a freelancer



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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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