The new boats will replace the outdated ones and enhance the capacity of the port
The Mongla Port Authority has proposed for collecting six vessels at a cost of Tk767 crore.
The project proposal will be placed at the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) meeting on Tuesday, said Planning Commission officials.
Under the project, a pilot mother vessel, a search and rescue vessel, a buoy laying vessel, a survey and research vessel, and two tugboats will be collected.
Chief Planning Officer of the Mongla Port Authority said their current vessels are too old to serve the port.
"We have taken an initiative to change the vessels gradually as those have crossed lifetime," he said.
The pilot mother vessel will tow larger vessels to Hiron Point. The laying vessel will facilitate the handling and maintenance of navigational aids in coastal and offshore waters. A tugboat will be used to manoeuvre, primarily by towing or pushing, other vessels in harbours.
The port has four tugboats and currently three of those are out of order. The lone MT Sarothi, collected 40 years ago, has been struggling to maintain the operation.
Besides, the port does not have any rescue vessel. The buoy laying vessel is 70 years old.
According to the Inland Shipping Ordinance 1996 and the Inland Shipping (Amendment) Act 2005, registration for each water vessel is valid for 30 years. However, the vessels at the Mongla Port have passed the period quite a long time ago.
Mongla, the second largest seaport of Bangladesh, was established in 1950. The port was abuzz with activities till 2000. From 2002 to 2008, the port had been incurring loss.
In 2009, the government took up several initiatives for the effective use and development of the port. Though the government's move pumped up income of the port, Mongla Port could not use it for its development.
The port earned Tk328 crore as net income in the last five years. Of it, Tk247 crore was reinvested in new capital.
Although the port could not carry out any large-scale development work with the rest Tk81 crore, Mongla Port performed more than 40 development works in a small scale with own spending.
The project proposal said Mongla port has been playing a key role in the country's economic activities. The port would be able to play a more effective role if its capacity and use increase.
The government has taken up a number of development projects, including installing Khulna-Mongla Rail line, construction of Khan Jahan Ali Airport, 1320-MW Rampal coal-fired power plant, a special economic zone at Mongla and Mongla Export Processing Zones, centring the port.
The development works are scheduled to complete by 2020-21.
Moreover, the port authorities believe completion of the Padma Bridge will enhance activities at the port.
The Ministry of Shipping says Padma Bridge will bring an opportunity of import and export of ready-made garments from Dhaka and outskirts via the port. The port will also witness more activities once construction of the Bangladesh-India joint special economic zone completes.
Besides, the port could be used for connecting neighbouring India, Nepal and Bhutan for transporting goods and products.
"As many as 8.72 lakh containers could be handled at Mongla Port in 2025. In 2049, the container number will rise to 45.32 lakh," predicts the assessment report of the vessel collection project.
Apart from this, raw materials for the Rampal power plant, basically coal, will be imported through the Mongla Port.
The report said the project will enhance the capacity of the port to handle the rush.
In the meantime, a Tk433-crore project to purchase essential machineries to enhance cargo and container handling of the port awaits Ecnec approval.
Another project to improve the port's capacity with Indian loans is at the last stage of Planning Commission approval. India will provide Tk4,839 crore of the total cost of Tk6,015 crore for the project.