Posted on February 12, 2024
The much-awaited Sultanganj River Port at Godagari upazila in Rajshahi is set to open on Monday with the aim of strengthening trade and economic ties between Bangladesh and India.
Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury, state minister for shipping, is scheduled to inaugurate the port in presence of Indian high commissioner to Bangladesh Pranay Verma.
‘The river port will connect the Maya Port of Murshidabad in India via the Padma River initially,’ said Kazi Wakil Nowaz, director (admin and HR) of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority.
He said that several trial runs would be held on the route to see what other works, such as dredging, were needed to continue the trade on the 17-kilometer route.
The river port was being launched under the Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade as part of the trade agreement between Bangladesh and India, said the BIWTA official.
He said that the protocol was signed in 1972 and renewed on March 31, 2020, to ensure that both countries benefit from their waterways for trade and commerce.
‘This river port will be used to import stones, coal, fruits, and spices from India primarily, as well as to export jute and garment products,’ he added.
According to the BIWTA officials, a small ship carrying two tonnes of cotton will depart from Sultanganj river port to Maya river port on the day of inauguration, with the return cargo from India to be confirmed in the next couple of days.
Md Zoinal Abdin, director of BIWTA marine safety and traffic management, told New Age that the river route had been closed for a long time.
‘We are going into a trial run of this port. We will dredge the river and build a full-fledged river port there’, he added.
He said that a control room was already set up at the port ahead of the inauguration.
Awami League presidium member and Rajshahi City Corporation mayor AHM Khairuzzaman Liton said that he had been trying to launch the Sultanganj river port for a long time.
‘Once the river port becomes fully operational, it will create job opportunities and lower the prices of different commodities due to the low transportation costs’, he said.
Masudur Rahman, president of Rajshahi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that the Padma River had lost its navigability and must be excavated before the full benefits of the river port could be realised.
He also hoped that the river port’s connectivity would be extended to Rajshahi city, Pabna’s Ruppur and the Mongla Port later.