Unlocking India's Northeast Region For Southeast Asia Connectivity: India-Built Sittwe Port In Myanmar Inaugurated

Amit Mishra

May 09, 2023, 04:05 PM | Updated 04:26 PM IST

Sittwe Port, Myanmar
Sittwe Port, Myanmar

The Sittwe Port in Rakhine State, Myanmar, part of the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project (KMTTP) was inaugurated today.

Union Minister for Ports, Shipping and Waterways, Sarbananda Sonowal and Deputy Prime Minister and Union Minister for Transport and Communications Admiral Tin Aung San, of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar jointly inaugurated the Sittwe Port.

During this event they received the first Indian Cargo ship which was flagged off from Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port, Kolkata. The cargo ship MV-ITT LION (V-273) carrying 20,000 bags containing 1,000 metric tonnes of cement was flagged off on 4 May.

Piloted by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and first approved in 2008, the Multimodal Transit Transport Facility on Kaladan river connects the Sittwe port in Myanmar with the state of Mizoram in India.

The project is aimed at boosting trade and commerce between India and Myanmar and easing access to other South Asian countries.

Once ready, it will also provide a strategic alternate link connecting the landlocked northeastern states to the rest of India and easing the pressure on the existing narrow Siliguri corridor. 

Sittwe Port

The deep-water port at Sittwe connects to Paletwa in Myanmar through an inland waterway and from Paletwa to Zorinpui in Mizoram through a road component.

The Kaladan Project (RaviC/Wikimedia Commons)
The Kaladan Project (RaviC/Wikimedia Commons)

The major cargo for export for Sittwe Port (ie, exports from Myanmar) include Rice, Timber, Fish and seafood, Petroleum products and Garments and textiles.

The major cargo for import for Sittwe Port (ie, imports by Myanmar) include construction materials such as cement, steel and bricks among others.

The Port will open up new opportunities for India’s Northeast as it will be able to use an alternate and more feasible route for trade and transit and also, for Myanmar, particularly the Rakhine State, will further enhance trade and commerce between the two countries and the wider region.

The construction of the Sittwe port, developed by the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) — an autonomous organization under the Union shipping ministry — was completed as far back as 2018.

However, its operationalization was impeded by a number of obstacles, including the political unrest in Myanmar and the intense conflict in the Chin and Rakhine state, resulting in delays in obtaining necessary approvals and licenses.

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