$500m World Bank investment on cards

River route study

The World Bank (WB) is conducting a study on 53 inland river routes including protocol routes in Bangladesh with a view to invest US$ 500 million.

According to sources, the WB has showed its interest to invest the money in two phases and it has prioritized to invest US$ 250 million on ‘A class routes’ in the country in first phase—Dhaka-Chittagong-Ashuganj including three ferry routes—Barisal-Chandpur, Bhola-Lakshmipur and Veduria-Laharhat.

A Netherlands based company is now conducting the study for the World Bank on three aspects—hydrography, social and environmental impacts.

“The investment decision will be taken in March next year during the board meeting of the World Bank. The final decision will come after reviewing the study report on Bangladesh’s 53 river routes,” Chairman of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) Commodore M Mozammel Huq told The Independent yesterday.

A good number of structures including cargo and passenger terminals may be built with the possible WB investment, he said, adding that the regional connectivity with India, Bhutan and Nepal will be strengthened if the project is implemented.

“It would be a soft loan. Bangladesh won’t repay the loan in the first 15 years. We have to pay the loan at one per cent interest rate after the 15 years grace period,” he said in reply to a query.

The WB is now surveying details and consultants will be appointed by the bank soon to make a study report on the river routes in Bangladesh, he added.

The WB is likely to invest another US$ 250 million in the second phase, he added.

BIWTA sources said, the WB could also decide to invest on other parts or other river routes in the country rather than Dhaka-Chittagong route.