Mega projects transforming Bangladesh economy

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Country to achieve high mid-income country status by 2041

KUWAIT CITY, Jan 12: It is often said that infrastructure-megaprojects are crucial drivers for accelerating economic growth in a developing country like Bangladesh where average GDP growth in the last eleven years (2008-2019) is nearly 7% per annum.

This economic growth is usually required both for capital accumulation to fund the mega projects and to earn the benefits of these projects for boosting the growth rate in two digit number.

Even before the ‘Agenda 2030’ was adopted, the present government in Bangladesh under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina envisaged implementing a few mega projects in Bangladesh to deliver the economic and social goods for millions of people in different parts of Bangladesh and to create the economic growth that will benefit the population.

It is expected that these large infrastructural undertakings and mega projects would transform the country’s communications, transportation, ports and energy scenario by 2030 and help the country to achieve high mid-income country status by 2041.

Padma Multipurpose Bridge
A self-funded project of Bangladesh government worth $3.65 billion, the 6.1 km double-deck bridge is expected to be open for traffic by 2022 connecting southern part of Bangladesh with the capital city as well as eastern part of the country. As of 10 December 2020, around 90% of the construction of the Padma Multipurpose Bridge has been completed. The bridge will have road and rail linkages in two separate decks. China Major Bridge Engineering Company Ltd, has been selected to construct the long aspired bridge on the river Padma. It is expected that the construction of the bridge will comprehensively transform the pace of economy in the region improving lives of millions people on the both sides of the river.

Matarbari Deep Sea Port
Bangladesh exports goods worth nearly $40bn and imports goods worth nearly $60bn majority of which carried through seaways. Presently, the country’s two seaports– Chittagong and Mongla—have up to 9.5-metre draft where vessels holding up to 2,000 teu containers can anchor. Bangladesh planned to develop its first deep-sea port as part of a publicprivate partnership with Japan. Matarbari deep seaport will have a 16-metre water draft and will be able to accommodate 8,000 teu post-Panamax vessels, lessening Bangladesh’s dependence on the feeder vessels to ferry export-import goods from the hub ports in Singapore, Colombo and Port Klang. Matarbari deep sea port will be made functional by 2025.

Payra Deep Sea Port
The construction work of Payra Deep Sea Port has been going rapidly since 2016. Payra will have rail, road, and waterway links with the capital of Dhaka, around which most of the country’s garment industry is based and which by extension is the primary destination for imports and origin point for exports. The total cost of the port is estimated to be 11- 15 billion USD. Once deep-sea port is built, the neighbouring India, Nepal and Bhutan can make use of this port while it facilitates the domestic economy with faster export and import activities. The port will be fully operational by 2023.

Dhaka Metrorail Project
It is a part of the 20-year long Strategic Transport Plan (STP) outlined by the Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA), a governmental agency. With an aim to provide a safe, fast, affordable and modern means of transportation for the city dweller, the project will have total 8 lanes connecting different parts of Dhaka City. Presently, 20.1 kilometres long Line 6, costing $2.8 billion is under construction. Each train will hold up to 1800 passengers. With 56 trains to be in service by 2021, Dhaka Metro is projected to serve more than 60,000 passengers per hour by 2021, with wait times of approximately 4 minutes. The entire route will be able to be travelled in less than 40 minutes at a speed of 100 km/h (62 mph). The project is expected to be completed by 2021.

Dhaka Elevated Expressway
Dhaka Elevated Expressway is Bangladesh’s first elevated expressway project. It is one of the largest infrastructure projects taken up by the incumbent government to ease traffic congestion in the capital. It will be 46.73 km long including the connecting roads and will cost around US$1.4 billion. The Italian-Thai Development Corporation Limited has entered a $1.062 billion contract with China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) for building the Dhaka Elevated Expressway. It is expected that the project might be completed by 2022.

Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant
The Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant will be a 2.4 GW nuclear power plant in Bangladesh. It will be the country’s first nuclear power plant and the commissioning of unit 1 is planned in 2022 while the commissioning of Unit 2 is planned in 2023.The VVER- 1200/523 Nuclear reactor and critical infrastructure are being built by the Russian Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation. The project will provide low-cost electricity and create new jobs in Bangladesh. The power production in Bangladesh currently exceeds 4GW a year. The new plant will increase the country’s power production and enable it to achieve energy independence. Karnaphuli Underwater Tunnel Chinese President Xi Jinping and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina laid the foundation of Karnaphuli Underwater Tunnel worth $2.49 billion in 2016. The boring work beneath the tunnel has been inaugurated by the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in February 2019. The 3.5km-long four-lane tunnel, the first of its kind in Bangladesh and region, will be built to make the port city of Chittagong “One City Two Towns,” based on a model of East and West Shanghai in China. The construction of the Karnaphuli Tunnel is expected to bolster industrial development, enhance tourism, and expand trade and commerce near the project area, creating employment for thousands of people and boosting exports and there will be a very positive impact on the total economy of the country.

Other prospective Mega Projects
Dhaka-Chittagong Express Way (rail or road), Circular Road around Dhaka City, Construction of an International Airport in the centre of Bangladesh, Dhaka Underground Train/ Tube Rail and Construction of second bridge on river Padma are a few of the other prospective mega projects that are in the offing in Bangladesh and for which opportunities exist for direct foreign investment. Bangladesh’s development story, especially implementation of the on-going and future mega projects, has earned it the reputation in the region as a hot spot for global investment. The role of these mega infrastructure projects is expected to be fundamental in the overall national development process as they will contribute positively in employment generation, connectivity, regional trade, economic integration as well as energy security of the country. With the completion of the mega-projects the government envisages the economy to grow at a faster pace, which in turn will foster longterm sustainable development.

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