The Chattogram Port Authority (CPA) will be in charge of running Patenga container terminal, which is likely to be opened this June to take off increasing cargo pressure on Chattogram port, until a foreign firm is finalised, according to authorities.
Five foreign operators have expressed interest in running the terminal under a "equip, operate and maintain" model. The firms are Denmark's AP Moller-Maersk, Saudi Arabia-based Red Sea Gateway Terminal, Dubai-based DP World, India's Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Limited, and Singapore's PSA International.
With a 4.50 lakh TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent unit) annual cargo handling capacity, construction of Patenga container terminal has logged 85% progress so far.
The Public Private Partnership (PPP) Authority is constructing the terminal, and it will finalise the operator appointment soon, said CPA Chairman Rear Admiral Mohammad Shahjahan.
He said until a foreign operator is picked up, they would use Chattogram port's cargo handling equipment in running the terminal.
With some 18 jetties, Chattogram port can accommodate around 49,000 TEUs of cargo. The seaport has been annually handling around 30 lakh TEUs over the last three years. In 2021, the port managed more than 32 lakh TEUs cargoes.
A rapid growth in sea-bound containers in recent years prompts backlogs at Chattogram port quite often, as the government in 2017 moved to construct Patenga container terminal.
The Bangladesh Army was attached to the "delegated procurement" of the project located near the estuary of River Karnaphuli. The construction includes a 583-metre main jetty with three berths, a 204-metre long dolphin jetty, 80,000 metres of roller-compacted concrete pavement, a 1.20 km four-lane road and other infrastructures.
With three extensions in deadline and the cost spiking to Tk1,229 crore, now the terminal is set for launching on 1 June this year, according to Mijanur Rahman, director of Patenga container terminal project.
Businessmen urged the authorities to complete the project within the June deadline, expressing concern that businesses would be deprived of the project benefits if the foreign operator appointment delays the launching.
AmirulHaque, former director of the Chattogram Chamber of Commerce and Industry and managing director of Premier Cement, told TBS that appointment of a prominent foreign operator will add up to the brand image of Chattogram port, and speed up the port operations.
Chattogram chamber President MahbubulAlam too said launching of the terminal should not miss the June deadline over operator appointment issue.
Shipping Secretary Mohammad Mezbah Uddin Chowdhury said the PPP Authority is working on appointing a foreign operator as soon as possible.