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Chattogram port might let in bigger ships

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Shri Vaibhavi Logistics

CHATTOGRAM : The Chattogram Port might soon be able to accommodate bigger vessels of up to 200 metres in length and having a draught of up to 10 metres, said Chattogram Port Authority (CPA) Chairman M Shahjahan .

Work is ongoing to enhance the capacity of the country’s premier sea port to handle more cargo and containers, he said.

Currently ships with a maximum draught of 9.5 metres, the vertical distance between the waterline and the bottom of the ship’s hull, and of up to 190 metres in length can berth at some of the port’s main jetties.

These have a carrying capacity of 2,000 TEUs to 2,200 TEUs. Those with a bigger draught of 10 metres can carry some 400 TEUs to 600 TEUs more.

The port chairman said United Kingdom-based firm HR Wallingford has been conducting a survey for a “Detail Hydrological and Hydraulic Study in River Karnaphuli” stretching from the port’s outer anchorage to the Kaptai dam on the Karnaphuli river.

The firm is expected to submit it final report by June and after receiving its report the authority will take a decision regarding allowing bigger vessels, informed the chairman.

Sources said the survey team has verbally informed the authority that the port can allow vessels with a draught of 10 metres.

The CPA chairman was addressing as the chief guest a views-exchange meeting with journalists marking the eve of a 135th Port Day.

Shahjahan gave a description of the development initiatives taken to enhance the port’s efficiency and capacity.

Around 90 per cent of the construction work for Patenga Container Terminal (PCT) has been completed, he said, hoping that the terminal, having an annual handling capacity of 4.50 lakh twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU), would start running by June.

The PCT will have a 600 metre long jetty where three container ships, each 190 metres in length and with a draught of 9.5 metres, will be able to berth simultaneously.

The terminal will also have a 220-metre dolphin jetty to accommodate an oil tanker.

Chattogram district administration has already handed over around 67 acres of land to the CPA for a Bay Terminal project in the coast of Patenga, Shahjahan said.

The shipping ministry sent a letter to the land ministry a few days back for handing over an additional 803 acres of land for the project in exchange for a token amount of money, he said.

He said the cabinet committee on purchase recently approved the appointment of a South Korean joint venture company as an international consultant for the Bay Terminal project.

He hoped that the company would be able to submit a development project proposal in three to four months.

He also said the land acquisition for a Matarbari port development project at Moheshkhali has been completed and the port was now under construction.

Once the Bay Terminal and Matarbari port come into existence, the capacity of the Chattogram port will be enhanced fourfold, he said.

The CPA has constructed a yard of around 5.80 lakh square metres in the past 10 years, which has increased its container handling capacity to reach 55,000 TEUs, he informed.

The Port Chairman said during the pandemic all the global ports faced prolonged container and vessel congestion but the Chattogram port did not face it that much.

He informed that in 2021, the port experienced a growth of around 13 per cent in all three areas — container, cargo and vessel handling.

To cater to upcoming rises in handling demand, the CPA is procuring 104 different types of container handling equipment this year, he said.

CPA Director (Traffic) Enamul Karim in a power point presentation claimed that the Chattogram port was, in all respects, ready to handle $80 billion worth of exports annually.

He explained that in 2021 the port handled 15.50 lakh TEUs of export containers out of which only 7.50 lakh TEUs were loaded with export cargoes and the rest were exported empty.

Mentioning that handling goods-laden and empty containers is the same for the CPA, the CPA director said the port can handle double the current volume of exports with existing facilities.

So, if it is currently $44 billion worth export, the port at present can handle exports worth $80 billion, he said.

CPA members Kamrul Amin, Md Mostafizur Rahman and Mahbubur Rahman were present among others.

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