The prime minister said the government in its National Integrated Multimodal Transport Policy has put forward a strategy that will seek to strengthen the position of inland waterways in the transport system
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday underscored the need for proper utilization of the maritime sector for massive socioeconomic development of the people of this region.
“There is a huge potential in the maritime sector in South Asia and utilizing the sector, it is possible to make a big lead into the socioeconomic development of the people of this region,” she said while addressing the inaugural session of the Second South Asia Maritime and Logistics Forum 2018 at a hotel in Dhaka, reports BSS.
“We don’t think only about our own country, we also give importance to the socioeconomic development of all people of this region through regional cooperation and maintaining contact,” the premier said.
Sheikh Hasina said her government is committed to improving navigability of the rivers and ensuring safe and secure river routes for transportation of people and goods.
“Initiatives have been undertaken to dredge the rivers to maintain navigability,” she said.
The Ministry of Shipping in cooperation with the Colombo International Maritime Conference Events and India’s Gateway Media Pvt Ltd has jointly organized the two-day event to attract investment in the infrastructure and innovation of new technology in the shipping sector.
Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan, Indian Union Minister for Shipping and Road Transport Mansukh Mandaviya, Sri Lankan State Minister for National Policy and Economic Affairs Dr Harsha De Silva, Editor-in-Chief of India’s Gateway Media Pvt Ltd Ram Prasad Ravi and Bangladesh’s Shipping Secretary Md Abdus Samad also spoke at the function.
A short audio-video presentation on Bangladesh’s maritime sector was screened at the function.
Pointing out that water transport is low-cost, energy-efficient and environment-friendly; Sheikh Hasina said restoring the primacy of inland water transport as a logical and competitive mode of transportation is one of the key priorities for the government.
“We’ve taken steps to reopen the closed river routes,” she said, adding dredging is highly economically justified for Bangladesh.
According to experts, she said, savings of transportation costs of cargo resulting from the use of water transport rather than road are estimated at Tk7.5 billion whereas the cost of dredging is estimated at Tk0.6 billion per annum.
The prime minister said the government in its National Integrated Multimodal Transport Policy has put forward a strategy that will seek to strengthen the position of inland waterways in the transport system.
“As Bangladesh is dubbed as the country of rivers, it is also famous for building river crafts,” she said. Sheikh Hasina said the shipbuilding industry flourished here in the ancient time and in continuation of the past, shipbuilding industry shows the path renew of the past glory. “The ships built in Bangladesh are being exported to various countries including, Denmark, Germany and Poland,” she said.
Quoting statistics, Sheikh Hasina said that the total import-export through waterways was 43.17 million metric tons in the fiscal year 2010-11 which has increased to 73.21 million metric tons in the fiscal year 2016-17.
“With the support of multilateral and bilateral development partners, we will scale up our investments to provide sustained navigability of our waterways, modernize existing river ports, build new ports and inland container depots to improve cargo and passenger handling, and ensure efficiency and safety of all vessels plying our waters,” she said.
Noting that Bangladesh is the largest delta of the world, the premier said its river and floodplains, which make up 80% of the country, support life, livelihoods and the economy.
The prime minister said the country faces major inter-related delta challenges in water safety, food security and socio-economic development and is prone to natural calamities such as floods, cyclones, and droughts.
Sheikh Hasina said there is already high pressure on the available land and water resources in the delta.
She said the government of Bangladesh, in cooperation with the government of the Netherlands, has prepared and endorsed the Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100. “One of the main components of Delta Plan is to accelerate the GDP growth through proper utilization of water resources,” she said.
The prime minister said Bangladesh is a country of boundless potentials. “In the water transport sector, new business opportunities exist such as the development of container transport at home and abroad, as well as the further expansion of dredging programs, ferry services, port management and operations by the private sector,” she said.