|A British company has proposed to invest $7.5 billion in the Dhaka-Payra seaport rail link project, a vital infrastructure as part of the Bangladesh government's ambitious economic development plan.|
An official of the railways ministry said the UK firm - DP Rail - has submitted a proposal in this regard.
The decision about the proposal would be made at a top-level meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office by the end of this month, the official added.
Earlier, the shipping ministry invited an Expression of Interest for investment in various components of the Payra seaport in Kuakata of Patuakhali. So far, five companies, including DP Rail, submitted proposals for the 127km rail link project.
A Bangladesh Rail ministry official said that the shipping ministry primarily shortlisted the British firm as eligible.
On Saturday, Finance Minister AMA Muhith told that British private investors would build a rail line from Dhaka to Payra.
“Payra is becoming a much better port in Bangladesh, which will be one of the best in the region. It is going to be really a good seaport,” the minister said.
Muhith later told The Daily Star that the money would come as Foreign Direct Investment.
Earlier in August, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed told the media that the British High Commissioner to Bangladesh, Alison Blake, said that the UK was keen to invest in Padma Bridge-Kuakata railway link and Payra port.
Talking to this newspaper yesterday, the rail ministry official said the British company in the proposal mentioned that it would do the job together with China Railway Construction Corporation Ltd.
The DP Rail’s proposal includes construction of an Inland Container Depot and a landing port at Payra, the official added, asking not to be named.
The rail link between Dhaka and Payra is crucial, as the government plans to build it as the main seaport of the country by 2022.
Payra sits on the Bay of Bengal and has all the potential to become an international seaport, but its road and rail links with Dhaka and other parts of the country are poor at the moment.
According to the DP Rail’s website, the company is working to finance, design, build, operate and maintain the Dhaka-Payra based upon FDI.
It said the DP Rail encompasses the investment, engineering, operations, planning and programming management expertise required.
Interport BD Limited has 50 percent share in DP Rail. The company wants to develop a freight railway linking Dhaka with Payra and the rest of Bangladesh, and a possible link to the Seven Sisters region of India.
Interport is a specialist transport and logistics company, based in Shropshire, England, although most of its activities are currently in Bangladesh.
The company has recently completed a technical and economic feasibility study of the proposed Payra port.
The Payra seaport became operational on a limited scale in August, after it was inaugurated by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Earlier, British firm HR Wallingford & Consortium prepared a techno-feasibility study of the Payra port, having 19 components with a total investment of $16 billion.
A shipping ministry official said the $16 billion include government to government funding and FDI.
Already, the shipping ministry has sent a proposal to the planning ministry for the Payra seaport project.