The Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC) has added two shallow draft oil tankers – OT BIWTC Safa and OT BIWTC Marwa – to its fleet to help refuel vessels operating on the Paturia-Daulatdia, Shimulia-Bangla Bazar and Dhaka-Barishal-Khulna routes.
The inland water transport body also added a floating workshop – the decommissioned ferry Lang Ting-K repurposed to provide vessels on Bhola-Lakshmipur naval route with repair and maintenance support.
The additions of both the refuelling oil tankers and the floating workshop – which are first of its kind for the BIWTC – were inaugurated by the State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury on Sunday.
The construction of the two oil tankers, which has a capacity of carrying 4 lakh litres of oil each, took nearly Tk21.80 crore. Each of the vessels, which are able to move in less than 2 metre depth, are 47-metre-long and 9.50-metre-wide.
Currently the vessels refuel by purchasing oil barrels, which are transported via land routes – the process is both expensive and time consuming.
"The addition of oil tankers will make refuelling less time-consuming and cost effective," said BIWTC Chairman Shamim Alrazi.
"The two vessels have been added to the fleet to modernise BIWTC's fuel supply system and to ensure transparency and accountability in the supply of fuel to the fleet," State Minister Khalid Mahmud said on Sunday while inaugurating the tankers at the Meghna River in Munshiganj.
"This will improve the overall BIWTC operation, which includes the providing of uninterrupted ferry and passenger services," added the state minister.
BIWTC Chairman Shamim said that the oil tanker will initially provide refuelling services to ferries and vessels operating on Manikganj, Rajbari, Munshiganj and Madaripur routes.
"Each of the tankers will have four officers and eight operation crew," said Shamim.
Earlier on 20 November, 2019, a deal was inked with Three Angle Marine Ltd to build the two oil tankers. The company handed over the refuelling oil tankers with five months to spare.
The same company, which was contracted to convert the Lang Ting K ferry to a floating workshop in February 2021, completed the conversion at a cost of nearly Tk2.37 crore.
"Thanks to this floating workshop, vessels will not require to be anchored at dockyards for minor repair works," said Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury.
Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority, another regulator under the shipping ministry owns a similar floating workshop, which is not currently operational.