Bangladesh unveils dredging master plan, floats bid to buy dredger

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Chittagong-Dhaka-Ashuganj Corridor. Credit: Sued Zakir Hossain/WBT

Posted February 20, 2020

The government of Bangladesh has prepared a dredging master plan to dig a total of 10,000 km of rivers to enhance their navigability facilitating water transportation.

State minister for shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury said about 178 rivers will be dredged in the next five years.

Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) and Bangladesh Water Development Board will jointly dredge the rivers as low water draught has become a threat for vessels carrying goods and passengers.

The minister said the length of inland waterways during rainy season is about 24,000 km, which goes down to 6,000 km in winter. During dry season, vessels can be found stuck due to low water draught, which seriously disrupts goods transportation.

A senior shipping ministry official told DPC water depth goes as low as 1.5 m in some rivers during winter. The draught needs to be raised up to 6 m for smooth plying of vessels.

Some dredging works are ongoing, and contractors are being selected through open tender. Both government and the development partners will fund the dredging works.

The World Bank is providing USD360 million to improve the navigability of Bangladesh’s waterways under the Regional Waterway Transport Project. The funding is helping to improve the navigability of 900 km of inland waterways along the Chittagong-Dhaka-Ashuganj Corridor.

The BIWTA is now dredging 12 rivers, carrying out capital dredging in 53 rivers, and working to rescue a number of rivers from encroachment.

At the same time, digging is under way to enhance the draught of 470 km of waterways linked to Bangladesh-India river protocol route.

In the meantime, the BIWTA has floated international tenders for procurement of one pontoon-mounted grab dredger with dredge material carrying bag, two 71-cm cutter suction dredgers and ancillary vessel with other accessories, and eight 61-cm cutter suction dredgers.

Foreign and local dredging companies having between 15 and 20 years of experience in manufacturing and overseas supply of class dredgers are eligible to submit bid documents.

Thirty-five dredgers are being purchased under a project to enrich the BIWTA’s dredger fleet.

Currently, there are about 200 dredgers owned by government organisations and private sector companies. The state minister estimates that about 500 dredgers are needed for carrying out capital dredging and continuous maintenance of waterways in Bangladesh.