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Dhaka Tribune

Mongla Port transforming into a vibrant hub for int’l ships

Padma Bridge has added a new dimension to the operation of the port

Update : 15 Oct 2022, 04:47 PM

Mongla Port is transforming into a thriving centre for international ships due to the implementation of some major initiatives taken by the government.

The authorities expect the port to become a competitor of Kolkata Port once the dredging of channels and upgrades to jetties are completed in 2024.

“Mongla Port can extend its service by 2024 as inner bar dredging, development of jetties, and procurement of equipment will be completed by this time,” said Rear Admiral Mohammad Musa, chairman of Mongla Port Authority.

“Modernization of jetties will also be completed by this time, and this will improve the capacity of the port,” he told Dhaka Tribune.   

He added that the Padma Bridge was proving to be an effective incentive for foreign ships to use the port, as the bridge allows goods to be easily transported from the port to other parts of the country.

The opening of the bridge has reduced the distance between Dhaka and Mongla to just 170km, 90km shorter than the distance between Dhaka and the country’s largest port in Chittagong.

In the last week of July, a shipment of garments produced in Bangladesh was sent to Poland from Mongla Port. Currently, a South Korean ship with supplies for the Bangabandhu Railway Bridge is anchored at the port.

Prior to the opening of the Padma Bridge, both ships would likely have used Chittagong Port.

According to the Mongla Port Authority, navigability problems of the main channel have been resolved through extensive dredging to facilitate large ships. Jetties are being improved to attract a greater number of vessels.

The port will also be connected to Dhaka through a rail link by the end of this year, as construction work of the Khulna-Mongla rail link is almost complete.  

“Mongla Port is now directly linked with the capital Dhaka after the launch of the Padma Bridge, along with other port-centric infrastructure. As a result, the activities of the port have increased manifold,” said Md Mostafa Kamal, director (traffic) of the Mongla Port Authority.

Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury, state minister for shipping, said: “Mongla Port is gradually transforming into a major hub as we have implemented some projects. However, it will be more vibrant within a couple of years, once the dredging is completed and there are no navigability problems.”

According to the Mongla Port Authority, the introduction of transhipment agreements and projects for the development of the western parts of Bangladesh have given the port several orders and much needed momentum.

A growing port in Southeast Asia

Mongla Port has already seen an increased arrival of foreign ships and is becoming a major gateway for Bangladesh’s overseas trade.

According to the port authority, the number of ships arriving each month has increased significantly in recent years after falling below 10 in 2008. 

After dredging was finished at the outer side of a nearly 140-kilometre channel to increase navigability and allow the transit of large boats, 75 vessels arrived on average each month in 2021—up from 46 five years earlier. The dredging was completed at a cost of Tk712 crore in December 2020.

Since 2012, the port has had an average yearly rise of 17% in ship handling, while the volume of cargo handled has increased by 19% during the same period. Some 10.19 million tonnes of freight were handled in 2020–21, double the volume from five years prior.

The port has 25 berthing facilities, including five jetties. However, it still suffers from an inadequate draft height at jetties, restricting the entry of large vessels with draft height of seven metres or more. 

Vessels with draft heights of up to 8.5 metres can reach Akram Point and Harbaria.

Initiatives for Mongla Port

According to the Mongla Port Authority, dredging of the inner bar of the Pashur channel is underway to enable ships with draft heights of more than nine metres to use the jetty. The Tk793 crore dredging project is expected to be completed by June next year.

“Domestic and international traders will more frequently use Mongla Port once dredging is completed next year,” said State Minister Khalid Mahmud.

“Once the dredging of the inner bar of the channel is completed the port will see a higher volume of container cargoes, especially garments, through Mongla,” said Mongla Port Authority Director Md Mostafa Kamal.  

“Nepal and Bhutan might also find use of the port convenient for their external trade. They will pick Mongla Port instead of Kolkata Port,” he added.

According to the Port Authority, 15 projects have been implemented for the development of Mongla Port from 2009 to 2020 at a cost of Tk1,372.8 crore. Nine more development projects are underway under Vision-2041.

The Mongla Port Authority is in the process of buying 75 pieces of equipment and machinery to handle cargo under a Tk433 crore project. Besides, it will buy six vessels to handle ocean-going ships under another project involving Tk767 crore.

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