For the first time, a ship with a draught of 10 meters berthed at a jetty in the Chattogram port. This is a big step forward because moving larger ships is expected to save money and time.
The increased draught limit is hoped to facilitate the transportation of more cargoes and containers by a single vessel and alleviate congestion at the seaport, which handles approximately 90% of Bangladesh’s annual trade worth $135 billion.
Faruque Hassan, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, stated, “It is very good news.”
As of yesterday, relatively larger ships were unable to enter the Karnaphuli channel due to its shallower draught. They can now arrive with heavier loads.
It sends a positive message to international shipping firms. Hassan stated, “Our customers will also become satisfied.”
The port is working well, and more dredging would make the channel deeper.
Since the new draught limit only applies to the container jetties at General Cargo Berth, Chittagong Container Terminal (CCT), and New Mooring Container Terminal, port users believe that container vessels would initially benefit from the move.
At 5.24 p.m. yesterday, a team led by CPA Member (Harbour) Commodore M Fazlar Rahman successfully berthed the Marshal Island-flagged MV Common Atlas at a CCT jetty. With 60,500 tonnes of sugar, the vessel left Brazil’s Port of Santos.
In 1975, the port could accommodate vessels with a length of 160 meters and a draught of up to 7.5 meters. In order to meet the growing demand for trade, the Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) gradually increased the draught limit over the past 47 years.
Until yesterday, ships of up to 190 meters in length and a maximum draught of 9.5 meters—the vertical distance between the waterline and the bottom of the ship’s hull—could berth at some of the main jetties in the port.
On the advice of HR Wallingford, a consulting firm based in the United Kingdom, the authority set the new draught limit.
According to CPA Secretary Md Omar Faruk, the company conducted a comprehensive hydrological study in the Karnaphuli and concluded that the port can accommodate vessels with a draught of 10 meters.
“The prevention of siltation through continuous maintenance and dredging has improved the navigability of the port channel and jetty areas. The port was able to raise the draught limit because of this.
Syed Md Arif, chairman of the Bangladesh Shipping Agents Association (BSAA), stated that up until now, container ships arriving at the port jetties could carry anywhere from 2,500 TEUs to 2,000 TEUs of containers.
“Vessels would now be able to carry at least 500 TEUs to 700 TEUs more with the new draught and length limit.”
Freight costs would decrease as vessels could carry more containers, resulting in lower import and export costs. He stated that vessels’ turnaround times would also decrease.
According to Abdul Bashar Chowdhury, chairman of BSM Group, a Chattogram-based commodity importer, “certainly, this will help us save a lot.”
Using a vessel with a draught of up to 8.5 meters, an importer could transport 20,000 tons of imported goods. Businesses will now be able to transport approximately 10,000 tonnes more merchandise on a single ship.
Importers won’t have to use smaller vehicles to bring cargoes to the port jetty, which will save time and give shipping companies more comfort.
Additionally, the risk of theft will decrease. Overall, efficiency will rise, according to Chowdhury.
However, BSAA Chairman Arif stated that because six jetties dedicated to bulk vessels have draughts of up to 8.5 meters, bulk vessels may not initially benefit.
Hassan of BGMEA, who is also the managing director of Giant Textiles Ltd., stated that the authorities ought to accelerate the construction of the Bay Terminal and other projects in order to permit the arrival of significantly larger ships.
The 10-meter-draught vessel’s berthing is scheduled to be officially opened today by State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury.