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Payra to be turned into a deep-sea port for Bangladesh, to cut transit times and costs

PAYRA port in Bangladesh is to be dredged to deliver a draft of 16 metres that would enable large container ships to call and reduce transit time to the country by one month as cargo would no longer require transshipment via Colombo or Singapore.

Dredging is expected to commence soon after a technical evaluation is completed, as the Payra port authority and Jan De Nul have formed a joint venture to handle the US$600 million project, reported IHS Media.

Payra will have rail, road, and waterway links with the capital of Dhaka, around which most of the country's garment industry is based making the area the primary destination for imports and origin point for exports. Bangladesh Railway and the United Kingdom's DP Rail last year signed a deal to develop a 240-kilometre railway line between Dhaka and Payra seaport.

At present the two main Bangladeshi ports of Chittagong and Mongla can only handle vessels with a draft of 8.5 metres, necessitating the use of feeder vessels.

"There is no alternative but to have a deep-sea port to help attain [a] $50 billion apparel export target by 2021," former vice president of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association Mohammad Hatem told JOC.com.

"Presently, we need nearly a month to send a consignment to Europe transiting in Singapore or Colombo since mother vessels can't come to [the] Bangladesh water area. If a deep-sea port is built in Bangladesh and mother vessels can come here, lead time will go down significantly," he said, adding that cost would also fall because of less reliance on feeder vessels.

Aside from draft limitations, Chittagong is operating at 35 per cent above its designed capacity of 1.7 million TEU and only recently made progress against heavy congestion that has plagued the port for most of the year. Volume in 2016 surged 16 per cent year on year to 2.3 million TEU.
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