Bangladesh should work on improving its logistical efficiency, particularly capacities of its ports and roads to handle the ever-growing trade activities, in the next 5 to 10 years, analysts have suggested the government.
The number of container ships and the flow of containers to the country’s Chittagong port will almost double up in the next 5 years, the experts predicted, at a recent seminar, organised by the International Business Forum of Bangladesh (IBFB), in Dhaka.
“In the next 5 to 10 years, traffic on the Dhaka-Chittagong highway will rise by 60 per cent. Trade through land ports will be more than double and air cargo will grow by at least three times in 7 years,” said Forrest Cookson, an economist of the Development in Democracy, USA.
The former president of American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Bangladesh presented a keynote paper on “Logistics: challenges and solutions”.
“All of this has to be accomplished with the facilities we have in hand. There is not enough time to build new deep sea container handling ports. Neither there is enough time to build new airports or another road linking Dhaka to Chittagong. Problems are pressing and swift and immediate actions need to be taken,” he said.
According to Cookson, Chittagong port has 16 berths for container ships and 3 of the berths have operating gantry cranes and 3 others are being installed. The port will be able to handle 1,250 vessels when all the 6 cranes will be operational, he said; adding that the port has a cargo handling capacity of 1,100 to 1,200 container annually.
He suggested installation of gantry cranes for all 16 berths to handle the growth of export-import activities at Chittagong port. “Build a bay side terminal with 14 berths and cranes,” said Cookson.
Khondaker Golam Moazzem, Research Director at an independent local think tank Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), stressed on the ensuring governance in logistics. “We have to overcome over dependence on road for logistics. We have to improve rail and inland waterways to develop multi-modal system,” he said adding that linking waterways and railways with Special Economic Zones will also help the country to a great extent.
Nazneen Ahmed, senior research fellow of Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS), emphasized that an overall comprehensive plan is needed for the purpose.
Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan said, “Chittagong port has turned around over the past decade. Automation system has been developed and more than 200 equipments have been procured to improve the performance of the port”.
He highlighted Bangladesh’s receipt of 3 cranes and the delivery of three more this month. “We expect that we will be able to procure 10 cranes by this year,” he said.
The shipping minister also highlighted the government’s steps in construction of a new terminal at Patenga, land acquisition for establishing a Bay terminal, improve draft of the channel and other facilities at Mongla port, dredging of Paira port, and plans to add another fresh port at Moheshkhali, Chittagong.