Floating terminal at Ctg port

Dhaka,  Tue,  26 September 2017
Published : 16 Aug 2017, 20:31:08

Floating terminal at Ctg port

The congestion-chocked Chittagong port now presents the worst scenario for businesses. Not that it has emerged all too suddenly. Jam, due to congestion and lack of space for multifarious works that the prime port has to handle daily, is not infrequent. This time it looks like the situation is beyond temporary remediation. The situation for around a month, according to reports in the media, has fast deteriorated to such an extent that the authorities concerned can no longer hold on to any makeshift arrangement to free the port channel as well as the yards, even temporarily. 

The government is now thinking of a floating terminal at the Chittagong port to help make the Pangaon inland container terminal operational, and also to shift the excessive load from Chittagong port to some extent. That the government is serious about it has been reflected from what the finance minister told the other day following a meeting with the stakeholders. The government built the Pangaon ICT to ease traffic congestion at the Chittagong port and remove congestion on the Dhaka-Chittagong Highway. However, the terminal failed to attract users. Lack of facilities at the terminal has been termed a major impediment to making it useful to businesses. Besides, carrying goods through waterways to the Pangaon ICT proved time-consuming and hence expensive compared with the time and cost in transporting cargo through road and railways. Now, will a floating terminal at Chittagong port help?

Experts should be well disposed to address the issue. There are a few more options, according to experts, which may go in the way of improving the condition of Chittagong port. For sometime now, private sector has been raising the issue of building more private inland container depots (ICDs) and inland container terminals (ICTs) which, they held, would provide ample free space at the Chittagong port yards. There are also issues like lands not under the ownership of the port authorities. As per an agreement, the Bangladesh railway was supposed to hand over a significant portion of its land to the port authorities. It has lately come to light that the railway is yet to hand over 65 acres of land. This needs to be immediately sorted out to facilitate optimum utilisation of the land.

As for the proposed floating terminal at the outer anchorage, it is not known whether the government's decision is backed by any study on how much of the cargo would be diverted from the Chittagong port in the event such a floating terminal is built. More important, if the Pangaon ICT, given its present condition, fails to attract businesses, how can the government be hopeful about diversion of a sizeable cargo from Chittagong to Pangaon? It would be of benefit to all concerned if the issue is discussed threadbare, before action is underway.

Editor : A.H.M Moazzem Hossain
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