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Crimean Crisis

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Submitted By Sazid
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Proposed Sonadia Deep Sea Port – A Future
Communication Hub of South-East Asia

Introduction
1. Sea ports all over the world act as economic and communicational hubs. The leading sector of a country like Singapore is its deep sea port. Theoretically, deep sea ports can be defined as economic infrastructures at sea having enough space to accommodate and harbor large container vessels with adequate draft.
2. Bangladesh stands on the vertex of the Bay of Bengal, blocking sea access to the entire region lying north, north-east and north-west. This geostrategic advantage could offer Bangladesh real opportunities to play a major role in regional seaborne trade.
3. Sonadia, a small island near Maheshkhali, possesses enormous geographical potentials for developing a deep sea port. Proper utilization of this potential might turn Bangladesh into a communication hub of south-east Asia. With this backdrop, this paper would focus on the requirements of a deep sea port at Sonadia, its prospects as a regional communication hub and challenges on its way.

Aim
4. To discuss the prospects of ‘Sonadia Deep Sea Port’ as the future communication hub of south-east Asia.

Requirement of Sonadia Deep Sea Port
5. Chittagong and Mongla ports are unable to handle larger container vessels having more than 9.2 meters draft and 1500 TEU capacity. On the other hand, the annual growth trend indicates that in 2020, the total seaborne trade in Bangladesh may rise up to 70 to 80 million tons, which is beyond our existing capacity. Moreover, due to shallow sea port, we are using lighterage to carry the imported containers from anchorage to coast, which incur additional freight cost. Thereby, the Sonadia deep sea port is a call of time for us.

Prospects as a Future Communication Hub
6. Shorter Trade Route to India. International trades of the seven landlocked states of India are carried out through Calcutta port by traversing over 800 kilometers. The distance will reduce to one-fourth if Sonadia deep sea port is utilized for the same trade.
7. Connectivity to China. The cargo from Kunming in China has to travel about 1,800 km over land to reach the nearest sea port before it is transported to Europe, traversing a sea distance of 18,300 km. In future, the same cargo may be transported through Sonadia savings a net distance of 4,000 km.
8. Opportunities for Nepal and Bhutan. About 40 percent of the total transportation at Calcutta port belongs to Nepal and about 10 percent to Bhutan. Sonadia port, with bigger capacity, would become a better alternative for them.
9. Potential Competitors.
a. Myanmar. India has come to an agreement with Myanmar to connect her Seven Sisters to the sea via Sittwe port of Myanmar and open up trade routes to South-east Asia. Calcutta and Sittwe ports will be connected over 539 kilometers of sea route. Myanmar has also decided to build two other deep sea ports in Kyaukphyu and Dawei.
b. India. Both Calcutta and Haldia ports suffer from chronic siltation of the Hooghly River. To mitigate this problem, India has also planned for two deep sea ports at Sagar Island and Diamond Harbor.
10. Competitive Edge for Sonadia. The Sittwe port, even after development works, will not be worth of larger trade vessels. Thereby, Seven Sisters’ trade will still have to be carried out through Calcutta port by traveling extra miles. Sonadia, hereby, would remain as a better option. The deep sea port in Kyaukphyu, located further towards south, will remain disadvantageous due to its distance and limitations of draft. The Dawei deep sea port will particularly serve Thailand having no impact on Bangladesh.

The Challenges on the Way
11. Huge Budgetary Requirement. Construction of a deep sea port will demand a huge amount of budget along with foreign donation or loan. However, in response to our government’s invitation, countries like China, Japan, India, Denmark, Netherlands and United Arab Emirates have offered their assistance.
12. Development of Supporting Infrastructures. The inland communication system via by road, rail, water and air has to be developed up to an international standard to provide required transit facilities to the stakeholders.
13. Need for Extensive Regional Diplomacy. Bangladesh Government will require to carry out extensive diplomatic campaign to establish Sonadia as a communication hub.
14. Non-Conventional Threat. Though deep sea ports are meant for economic use, but India may use it for carrying her armaments to suppress the insurgency at North Eastern States. It may provoke those insurgents to destroy our communication infra-structures and the deep sea port.
15. Need for Added Security. Sonadia deep sea port will be a major KPI of the country warranting additional security measures for its protection.
16. Shrink of Bangladeshi Market. Allowing Indian goods through our port will reduce the cost of their goods in the north-east Indian states. This will affect in shrinking Bangladeshi market in those states.

Conclusion
17. The growth rate of our seaborne trade warrants a well-organized and accommodative deep sea port. Proposed Sonadia deep sea port is the best option to meet such requirement. It has got enormous potentials to become a strong communication hub of south-east Asia. Nevertheless, we have competitors and several challenges on our way.
18. Our country is prone to natural calamities with limited natural resources. We also got to support a very large population. Sonadia deep sea port may turn into the golden goose of Bangladesh, if the opportunity is grabbed in time and the challenges are mitigated with care.…...

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