Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday said money from the country’s reserve is being used for development activities, imports and the people’s welfare, as she inaugurated and laid foundation stone of several development schemes at the Payra Seaport which are being implemented with own financing.
“Many people are questioning where the money from the reserve is going. I am telling them that the money goes to Payra Seaport. The money is being used to purchase food and fertilizer for the people. This money is being used for the people’s welfare and imports. None is misappropriating the money,” she said.
The Prime Minister virtually inaugurated and laid foundation stones of several development schemes at the Payra Seaport involving Taka 11,072 crore that include capital dredging of the seaport’s Rabnabad channel, launching of eight ships, first terminal and construction of a six-lane approach road and a bridge, from her official Ganabhaban residence here.
Briefly describing the projects taken for the development of the naval routes, the premier said, “Bangladesh’s economy would be more vibrant, stronger and developed once the measures taken by us are completed.”
Sheikh Hasina said she herself formed the Bangladesh Infrastructure Development Fund with the reserved money and the development schemes at the Payra Seaport have been taken under the fund.
“We have started the development schemes for the first time from the fund. We can use the reserved money for the country’s infrastructure development in future,” she said.
The Prime Minister said she had a desire to start the development works of the Payra Seaport with own finance as many hurdles would have to be faced in getting foreign loan.
Sheikh Hasina said the Payra Seaport Authority has been given a loan from the fund with low interest to implement the development projects and they may have to pay one or two percent interest with service charge for that.
She said her government has been developing all the ways — road, rail, air and water — but their priority is developing the naval routes across the country to ensure transportation of goods at the cheapest rate.
The Prime Minister stressed the need for continuing dredging of the naval routes every year after their capital dredging to maintain their navigability.
She said her government is arranging dredgers for every seaport as maintenance dredging is required in every year to ensure navigability of the ports,
The premier said her government wanted to connect the seaport with North Bengal and it can also be connected with Assam of India and Bhutan, adding that her government had already allowed India, Nepal and Bhutan to use the Mongla and Chattogram seaports.
She said the Payra Seaport has a special importance as it is situated in between Mongla and Chattogram seaports, adding that the Payra Seaport has so far earned revenue worth over Taka 600 crore since its operation started.
The premier said she had to face opposition from many people when she wanted to build it, adding that they opposed the move saying that it would not be viable.
She said the capital dredging of the seaport’s Rabnabad channel will create a 75km-long, 100-125meter-wide and 10.5meter-deep channel, building a capacity to dock 40,000 tons of cargo or 3000 container-laden ships at the port.
About inauguration of the eight ships, she said seven of the ships were being built at various dockyards in Bangladesh.
She said she had a plan to build a rail bridge to connect the Payra Seaport after opening the construction work of a 1,180 meter-long bridge over the Andharmanik river to transport goods to the Payra Seaport.
Sheikh Hasina said the government took every measure following the footsteps of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who said the socio-economic development of Bangladesh would take place quickly due to its geographical position.
She reiterated her call to the world community to stop war and withdraw sanction giving the common people a chance to live.
“I am again requesting the world to stop the war and withdraw sanction as the commoners will get scope to live,” she said.
The Prime Minister said she did not know who is benefiting except the arms traders with the war as the people across the globe have been suffering immensely.
She said the entire world has been rattled due to the Russia-Ukraine war and Bangladesh has to suffer its burnt as prices of everything have gone up due to the impact of the war alongside the Covid-19 pandemic.
State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury, MP, Shipping Secretary Md. Mostafa Kamal and Payra Port Authority Chairman Rear Admiral Mohammad Sohail spoke at the function held at Payra Port, Kalapara in Patuakhali.
A documentary on the Payra Port and the development projects was screened on the occasion.