Japanese Sojitz Corporation and local Energypac want the Bangladesh government to get involved in their $2-billion plan to build a seaport and energy industrial park in Chattogram under a public-private partnership (PPP).
The PPP is aimed at faster implementation of the project at Mirsarai Economic Zone and raising funds as well, said Nurul Aktar, a director of Energypac Power Generation.
Sojitz and Energypac have shared their plan with the Prime Minister’s Office and the Chittagong Port Authority in order to involve the government with the project.
“PPP model is the best way to implement this type of large-scale project and it is easy to mobilise government-to-government funds and borrowing from international financiers,” Aktar said.
As per the initial feasibility study, the two firms will need to invest $1.2 billion within 2024 to complete the first phase of the seaport and the investment will reach $2 billion to build the full-fledged seaport.
“The port will be economically viable and support the zone,” Aktar told The Daily Star recently.
He said the Chattogram port would not be able to handle the export and import activities when the economic zone will go into operation in full swing in 2030.
So, a modern and efficient seaport is highly required at the zone to handle zone-centric export and import activities, he said.
The port would be able to anchor 30,000 to 40,000-tonne cargo vessel, much higher from the present capacity of only 10,000-tonne at Chattogram port, Aktar said.
There is no scope to build more jetties and yards at the Chattogram port, Aktar said.
Sojitz and Energypac have already signed a memorandum of understanding with Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (Beza) so that the two companies can get the land.
A land lease agreement may be signed by December this year.
Once the deal is inked, Sojitz and Energypac will carry out the final feasibility study and place financing proposal with the World Bank and the Japan International Cooperation Agency for funds.
Japanese trading giant Sumitomo Corporation’s plan to invest at Japanese Economic Zone in Araihajar has encouraged Sojitz Corporation to enter into the Bangladesh market, said Paban Chowdhury, executive chairman of Beza.
He said development of energy, infrastructure and industrial park and port facilities was the key targets of the company in Bangladesh at the moment.
Sojitz’s plan is to establish an infrastructure project to provide services for handling bulk materials through the port, where mother vessels will anchor.
The Chattogram port cannot provide the service for bulk materials handling because of a lack of technology and required space. Sojitz will provide the service, easing the cost of doing business, Aktar said.
The Japanese company is also keen to develop businesses in various industries such as machinery, chemical, medical, renewable energy, coal, food and textiles.
Aktar said the port and industrial park would create 100,000 jobs and business opportunities for different sectors such as logistics and shipping.
He said it is really tough for a Bangladeshi company to go for such a big project without the support from an efficient foreign company.
“Sojitz has the experience of handling this type of port and we have a plan to engage a top seaport authority in Japan with this project in order to make it a top port.”