There will be additional benefits in berthing and transportation of goods, which will save foreign exchange
Two container ships are being launched to transport goods from Chittagong port to Singapore and Malaysia. The two ships Sahare and Sarera will officially start their journey from Chittagong port on Monday. HR Lines Ltd, an affiliate of the Karnaphuli Group, will operate the two Bangladeshi flagged ships as the feeder operator.
Importers and exporters say the two Bangladeshi-flagged ships will play an important role in international maritime transportation to deliver imported and exported goods to their destinations on time. As a result, because of the uncertainty of delivery of goods on time, container congestion at the port will be alleviated, and this will brighten the image of Bangladesh in the international maritime transportation business.
There is no deep seaport in Bangladesh, and large container vessels cannot dock at Chittagong seaport. As a result, small ships have to be relied upon to transport container goods on international routes. These ships carry container goods from Chittagong port to the destinations of different countries including Singapore, Malaysia and China.
From Chittagong port to Singapore, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Chinese ports, 22 foreign feeder operators transport goods through transit routes through 84 container vessels. These ships currently transport $90 billion worth of imported and exported goods to Colombo, Singapore and Malaysia. In 2019, the port of Chittagong handled 3.8 million TEUs containers.
Chittagong Port Secretary Md Omar Farooq told The Business Standard that two Bangladeshi-flagged ships have been launched, and they will start transporting containers from June 22. HR Lines Ltd, a Bangladeshi company, is being added as a feeder operator from June 22.
Meanwhile, HR Lines Ltd will get priority to get berthing at Chittagong port as a domestic company. According to the Bangladeshi Flag Bearer Ship Protection Act 2019, domestic ships are required to transport 50 percent of the cargos. Again, there is no need for the ship to wait at the jetty to load containers.
Hamdan Hossain Chowdhury, director of Karnaphuli Group, told The Business Standard that the Sahare and Sarera ships would leave Chittagong port every Monday for Singapore and Kelang port in Malaysia. Each of the two ships can carry 1,550 single containers (20 feet in size). In this way, exporters will not have to suffer for transit from Chittagong port to Singapore and Malaysian ports.
He added that container congestion has created complications for exporters' shipments. Exporters will be able to transport goods as per their plans as the two Bangladeshi ships will leave Chittagong port at a specified time. This will remove the uncertainty of transportation of such goods on the one hand, and will save foreign exchange on the other.
Earlier, HRC Shipping Company and QC Container Line, two domestic companies in the private sector, used to transport containers on Bangladeshi flagged ships. Two companies were involved in this business from 1996 to 1998. HRC owned 10 ships and QC owned six ships. QC in 2007 and HRC in 2010 completely withdrew from the business. With the two ships Sahare and Sarera, a local company is going to start the business of transporting goods by international sea.
Mahbubul Alam, vice-president of the Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said it was undoubtedly an honour for Bangladeshi-flagged ships to be involved in the transportation of goods on international routes. This will save a lot of foreign currency. Bangladesh's reputation in the international maritime transport business will increase.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association co-president AM Chowdhury Selim told The Business Standard that export of readymade garments were initially shipped from the port of Chittagong to the Malaysian and Singaporean ports by feeder ships. After that, the containers are transited and reach the destination by a big ship. In this case, many times the feeder ship from Chittagong port had to face problems to get transit later. If two Bangladeshi flagged ships are launched, our worries will be reduced.