The Indian government is considering providing Bangladesh with access to its Jawaharlal Nehru and Mundra ports on the country’s west coast.
Capable of receiving large mother vessels, the ports are around 2,000km away from Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital.
The connectivity with Bangladesh isn’t expected to require additional finance, as several rail projects between the two Asian countries have already begun, according to The Hindu Business Line.
The Bangladeshi government is constructing a bridge over the Padma river, which is expected to benefit both countries.
Currently, Bangladesh’s exports are transported by vessel from the Chittagong port to either Colombo, Singapore or Port of Klang, Malaysia, for transshipment to mother vessels. This is an expensive and time-consuming process.
Bangladesh is keen to establish deep-sea ports, but the country’s limited cargo potential makes that an unviable proposal given the huge investment required.
The Indian government has already offered Bangladesh the right to use the Kolkata port in exchange for access to the Chittagong port. However, sources said that this may not solve Dhaka’s problems as Kolkata is a river port and thus cannot accommodate large vessels.
The report noted that other Indian ports on the east coast either haven’t yet experienced container traffic or are affected by low draft.
The Indian government is also building three ports as part of a strategy to attract transshipment traffic from Colombo or Klang. Among those is the proposed $4bn Vizhinjam port by Adani Group.
As the construction of the three ports will take time, the Indian government is urging neighbouring countries to use the deep-draft port facilities on the west coast as part of plans to improve the country’s attractiveness as a transshipment hub.
In addition, customs has implemented the electronic cargo tracking system, facilitating third country containers to pass through without physical checks or delays .
Mass investment in rail infrastructure is expected to ease the movement of goods while ensuring that the upcoming freight corridor is viable.
Meanwhile, more than 4,000km away, Nepal is preparing for a multi-billion-dollar project for establishing rail connectivity to Chinese ports.