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Bangladesh Gets $360M Investment for Improved Waterways to Ease Trade

Bangladesh’s busiest waterways are just that—busy. But a new investment from the World Bank promises to improve them.

As part of the Bangladesh Regional Waterway Transport Project 1, World Bank will spend $360 million to overhaul the South Asian nation’s ports, rivers and canals to improve transportation and make it a more environmentally-friendly mode for moving cargo.

The funds will also go toward improving the navigability of waterways along the Chittagong-Dhaka-Ashuganj corridor, connecting routes to help reduce travel time, cut cargo costs and boost both national and regional trade.

“Bangladesh can expand intra-regional trade with India, Bhutan and Nepal by improving connectivity through road, rail and inland waterways,” World Bank’s country director for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal, Qimiao Fan, said. “As a riverine country, Bangladesh has a large inland water transport sector, which, if strengthened, can support the needs of its growing export-oriented economy. This project will modernize and improve the multimodal transport and logistics system in the country and with its neighbors.”

The country will also get a new general cargo terminal at Pangaon and the Ashuganj cargo terminal will get an upgrade. New terminals will be built, as well as improvements made to existing facilities in Sadarghat, Narayanganj, Chandpur and Barisal.

Fourteen landing stations will be constructed in shoals where waterways are often the only mode of transportation to help improve conditions for the poor living in remote areas. The terminals and landing stations are expected to improve security, safety and sanitation conditions and include toilets and waiting rooms.

“High transport costs, low efficiency and delays in the logistics chain increase trade costs and reduce the competitiveness of Bangladesh’s products,” Diep Nguyen-van Houtte, World Bank team leader for the project, said. “By improving riverine connectivity, the project will make movement easier for traders, producers, passengers and cargo on multimodal transport networks in the sub-region, and help the poorest who rely on inland waterways as a mode of transport.”