Tuesday, 21 March, 2023

Matarbari port extension delayed for land crisis

Matarbari port extension delayed for land crisis
Matarbari Deep Sea Port –sun photo

Matarbari Deep Sea Port extension project has been deferred as Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) did not hand over the proposed land yet.

Officials said that the CPA has not handed over the 500-acre land the state-owned Coal Power Generation Company Bangladesh Ltd (CPGCB) due to delay in acquisition.

The sea port in Moheshkhali island of Cox’s Bazar will be extended by 100 metres. After extension, it will be 350 metres.

CPGCB has already completed preparing of 14.3 kilometers long and 250 metres wide channel basin in the port for handling coal from mother vehicles to feed 1200MW coal-fired power project from 2024.

“The CPA assured us of handing over the proposed land in January 2020. Then it was deferred to September, 2021 and now it has been postponed again to June 2022,” CPGCB Project Director Abul Kalam Azad told the Daily Sun on Wednesday.

He said the extension cost might be increased significantly due to the delay in implementing of the project, which is now expected by 2023.

According to him, the CPA is the authority to acquire the land for extension of the port. CPGCB spent Tk 140 billion for establishing the existing port and it has a plan to spend another Tk 61 billion to Tk 62 billion considering the land acquisition cost and other variable costs.     The officials said the implementation of the country’s one of the mega coal-fired plants is going smoothly. 

Last month, the Power Division held an inter-ministerial meeting to implement the extension project properly.

Representatives from the shipping ministry, CPGCB, CPA and Power Division attended the meeting chaired by Power Division Secretary Md Habibur Rahman.

The Matarbari 1200MW Ultras Super Critical Power Project is a fast track project of the government.

CPGCB authorities are implementing coal and oil unloading, 14.3 kilometres long and 250 metres width and 18.5 metres deep channel, said CPGCB managing director at the meeting.  Besides, seawall, revetment, sediment mitigation dyke facilities are also being available at the Matarbari deep sea port, he said.  Utilising the facilities of Matarbari power plant infrastructure, the port already started its commercial operation.

“Matarbari commercial port channel’s 100-metre extension basin with 397-metre sediment mitigation dyke work will be implemented by EPC contractor STIC under Matarbari Power Plant project,” MD said.

CPGCB already completed 14.3 kilometres long and 250 metres width and 18.5 metres deep channel in April 2021, he said.

Mother vehicles also berthed at the port carrying heavy equipment in December, 2020 for the power plants, he told the meeting.

“But CPGCB could not start expansion work of the port as it is yet to get the land,” MD said. As per the MoU in 2018, the CPGCB will hand over the port to CPA. As per the Taking Over Certificate (TOC) signed between CPGCB and EPC contractor STIC, it’s mandatory to take over the channel by CPA.

But the CPGCB handover the port to the CPA as the port authorities showed interest to take over the port after extension, official sources said.  “Lack of proper operation and maintenance, the channel may be inoperative as the CPGCB has no experience to operate the port,” said MD.

At the meeting, the CPA representative said the CPA is an autonomous organisation of the government under the Ministry of Shipping.  “The CPA has a revenue and manpower crisis. It requires manpower for operational and maintenance of the newly constructed port. It also needs to complete the port’s 100-metre extension in width,” an official of CPA said at the meeting.

“So the CPGCB will take over the channel,” the CPA official said.

The meeting decided that the CPGCB would communicate with the ministry of land for settling the land prices as local people were in dispute with the authorities on land acquisition.