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Floating terminal & new port proposed to ease congestion at Chittagong

BANGLADESH has commissioned two studies to explore the technological and economic feasibility of developing a mid-sized seaport north of Chittagong and a floating terminal in Chittagong in an effort to ease chronic congestion at Chittagong port.

The Mirsarai Economic Zone would anchor the port, while the floating terminal near Chittagong would be used as a transshipment point where containers from feeder vessels will be offloaded to small containerships to reach inland container terminals (ICTs) near Dhaka, reported IHS Media.

Chittagong port handled 2.3 million TEU in 2016, far exceeding its design capacity of 1.6 million TEU.

"Dhaka-based shippers will be able to avoid congestion on highways and in Chittagong port if they use river routes to the harbour for carrying containers. Both time and cost will also be saved," said Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) rear admiral M Khaled Iqbal.

Vessels from Dhaka and ICTs throughout the country would be able to bring their cargo to the floating harbour for loading onto vessels bound for Singapore or Colombo.

Government data highlights that 70 per cent of containers at the Chittagong port originate from, or are destined for, Dhaka, of which only 17 per cent are being transported by river or rail. The remaining 83 per cent move by truck.

The government built the first ICT in Pangaon in 2013 to lower the costs of shipping from Chittagong to the Bangladesh hinterland.

Several private companies are building their own ICTs to utilise river shipping to bypass acute road congestion, and the government is also building two ICTs in Narayanganj and another in Ashuganj. Some ICTs under construction will be able to accommodate 90-metre-long and four metre draft vessels, according to officials.

A pre-feasibility study by CPA found both projects to be viable, Mr Iqbal told JOC.com. Netherlands-based Public Domain Architecten is studying the floating terminal, while the governments of Denmark, Japan, and Bangladesh are jointly studying the Mirsarai, which would have a depth of 9.5 metres near the economic zone situated on 30,000 acres and is set for opening in 2019.
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