Direct container shipping service between Chattogram port and the United Kingdom is set to start today following the opening of a direct shipping route to Europe in February this year.
DKT Allseas Global Logistics, a UK-based company, will operate the inaugural shipment with the ship MV AMO that will leave Chattogram for the port of Liverpool with goods from Bangladeshi exporters.
Md Zafar Alam, member (administration and planning) of the Chattogram Port Authority (CPA), told The Business Standard, "The DKT Allseas's Mongolian flagship MV AMO is currently stationed at the port jetty. The ship will sail directly to Northern Europe for the first time on Friday with 300 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) of garments products from Bangladeshi exporters. The ship will reach the port of Liverpool in the United Kingdom in 22-23 days."
Hasina Arju, deputy traffic manager (administration) of the CPA, said, "The ship will first pass through the Suez Canal to Rotterdam Port in the Netherlands. It will reach the port of Liverpool from there. The ship will be back to Chattogram carrying containers of imported goods."
Captain Syed Sohel Hasnat, CEO of Phoenix Shipping Ltd, a local representative of Allseas Global Logistics, said, "Currently, the condition of the Colombo port in Sri Lanka is bad. It takes about 35-40 days for an export shipment from Bangladesh to reach the UK via Singapore port. In this situation, European buyers want to get products directly from Bangladesh. That is why we have undertaken this initiative."
"The MV AMO reached Chattogram port on Thursday afternoon from China. In the first phase, the ship is carrying 300 TEUs of garments products. We hope the quantity will exceed 1,000 TEUs in the next trip," he added.
Initially, the shipment of goods will start with three ships – MV AMO, MV BBC FINLAND, and MV San Alfonso.
"The capacity of the MV AMO, a Mongolian flagship with a draft of 8.9m, is 1,730 TUEs. Liberia's flagship MV San Alfonso has a container capacity of 1,819 TEUs, with a draft of 8.9m. The Antigua Barbuda flagship MV BBC Finland is a typical cargo ship," he noted.
Syed Mohammad Arif, chairman of the Bangladesh Shipping Agents Association, said, "Direct container shipping service with Europe is very positive news for our economy. It will increase competition among shipping companies and reduce freight charges. Thus, the cost of business will decrease."
Earlier, on 7 February, container shipping service started for the first time with Italy from Chattogram port. The service was launched by Italian company RIF Line and its subsidiary Calypso Companya de Navigation.
They have so far imported and exported goods five times in two ships taking 18 to 20 days per shipment.
Commodity Supplies AG, a Swiss company, has also announced the launch of direct shipping services to two more European destinations next month.
At present, cargo containers exported from Chattogram to Europe and the USA are first taken to four ports in Singapore, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia in small container vessels. After reaching these ports, the containers are transferred to large ships.
It usually takes 24-28 days to transport containers from Chattogram to Europe and the USA via Singapore or Sri Lanka. However, due to delays in getting bookings on big ships amid the pandemic, it sometimes takes 30-35 days to reach the destinations.
CPA Chairman Rear Admiral Mohammad Shahjahan told TBS, "We welcome all initiatives to launch direct shipping services. We are giving immediate approval to any organisation applying for shipping on the new route. It will save time and money in imports and exports, as well as reduce dependence on the ports of Singapore and Colombo."