Matarbari channel handed over to CPA
The dream of realising a deep seaport at Matarbari in Cox's Bazar is now a step closer as Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) has taken charge of an artificial navigation channel created for vessel movement required for a coal-fired power plant.
The channel has already become vibrant long before the construction of the port.
A total of 120 big and small vessels carrying construction materials and coal for the 1200MW Matarbari power plant have so far berthed at the two jetties of the power plant since December 2020.
Coal Power Generation Company Bangladesh Limited (CPGCBL) Managing Director Md Abul Kalam Azad officially handed over responsibility of the Matarbari deep sea port channel to CPA Rear Admiral Mohammad Sohail.
The handover programme was held at the Chattogram port on Wednesday in presence of Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister Md Tofazzel Hossain Miah.
CPA Secretary Md Omar Faruk told The Daily Star that the CPA has been entrusted with channel's use, preservation and control.
Port dues, berth hire charges, piloting, tug charges, berthing and unberthing and other charges of seagoing vessels coming through this channel will be collected by the CPA, he said.
An initiative was earlier taken by the CPGCBL to excavate a 14.3-kilometre (km) long artificial channel having a 250-metre width and 16-metre depth under the Matarbari power project aiming to bring in coal for the plant.
The government later geared up its plan to set up a new commercial port at the same site taking advantage of this deep draft channel.
Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica), which funded the coal power plant, also suggested building a deep seaport at the area when their feasibility report found out that the sea at Matarbari had a deeper depth than expected.
The width of the channel was later increased by 100 metres and depth by two metres aiming at constructing the Matarbari deep seaport.
A 1,753-metre-long breakwater on the north side of the approach channel, another 713-meter-long breakwater on the south side and a 1802.85-metre revetment on the north side were constructed with stone blocks by the CPGCBL.
They were to ensure that the channel and harbour stayed safe and secure from the force of the waves.
The Tk 17,777.16 crore Matarbari port development project got approval from the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) on March 10, 2020.
The CPA and the Roads and Highways Department will implement the Matarbari port development project by December 2026.
CPA Chairman Sohail informed that tender bids for constructing the first terminal of the deep seaport were coming in.
He hoped that the construction work of the first terminal to start by this year.
Under the coal power plant project, two jetties have been built for unloading coal and fuel.
On December 29, 2020, the first vessel carrying construction materials for the power plant berthed at the first jetty using the channel.
And on April 26 this year, a vessel of 229-metre length and 12.5-metre draft, the biggest as of recent times, berthed at a coal jetty of the Matarbari power plant.
Captain Ataul Sidique of the CPA, also Matarbari harbour operation coordinator and manager of the Matarbari deep seaport project, said 120 big and small vessels berthed at the two jetties since December 2020 using the channel under the supervision of the CPA's marine department.
Since April this year, seven bigger sized vessels carrying over 5 lakh tonnes of coal berthed at Matarbari as of yesterday, he said.