The government has dropped the much-talked-about Sonadia deep seaport project from the list of its first track projects.
Earlier the project was deemed
urgent and very important as the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) observed
that its implementation would help the country expedite progress.
six top priority projects Sonadia deep seaport project involving $16
billion was placed under the Fast Track Project Monitoring directly by
the Prime Minister.
During the tenure of Awami League between 2009
and 2013, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had taken up six projects for
implementation on a priority basis.
These are Padma Bridge, deep
seaport in Sonadia, metro rail in Dhaka, coal-fired power plant in
Rampal, Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant and an LNG terminal at Maheshkhali.
to highly-placed sources in the Secretariat and the PMO, a number of
countries such as Japan, China, United Arab Emirate (UAE), India and
Germany were vying to secure the multi-billion-dollar contract for the
"We selected three parties -UAE, China and Germany- but
India and the Netherlands also got involved here as a party. However,
we finally started to go slow as we need to check every proposal that
needs more time," a senior official at the PMO told this correspondent
According to sources, last year Dhaka opted for a
consortium financing model led by China to accommodate others in
construction of the mega infrastructure, but during the Prime Minister's
visit to UAE it also showed interest in deep seaport, an official
involved in the project said.
Some local and regional factors worked
for the change in government stance on signing the Sonadia deep seaport
agreement at the last minute before Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina set off
"We sat three times in the last one year to discuss the
implementation of the top priority projects although we need to sit
every month to discuss the progress and remove all hurdles, including
red tape, to ensure that these are implemented as fast as possible," the
The UAE's state-controlled DP has long been showing
interest in the port construction, the official said adding that
Bangladesh wants to boost its trade ties, especially manpower export to
According to sources, the government is keen to take into
consideration the feasibility study on the port already conducted by
Japan along with the one to be conducted by China.
said though Chinese officials were found interested in supplier's credit
system as a financing modality, they were not rigid about it.
"Actually, we were not much interested in going deep into the negotiations. We want further discussions," he noted.
Foreign Ministry official said that before striking a major deal with
any country the government wants to know the attitude of India as it
plans to install an LNG pipeline with India.
He said, "We also
examine the issues like concessional loans, operation modalities and
supervisory aspects relating to construction of the port."
Relations Division Secretary Mohammad Mejbahuddin said that the
discussion to award the contract to China would continue.
with countries will also continue to finalise all aspects, including
financing modalities, to construct the deep-sea port as we want a
win-win position," Mejbahuddin added.