Bangladesh is going to set up four more lighthouses and seven signal providing radio stations in the coastal areas as revenue collection from the existing lighthouses has been healthy.
Speaking to The Business Standard, Mercantile Marine Department Electronic Engineer Baharul Islam said the government is going to set up four more light houses at Nijhum Dwip, Dhal Char, Dublar Char, Kuakata and seven signal providing radio stations in coastal areas in under the "Establishment of Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) and Integrated Maritime Navigation System Project," involving Tk370 crore.
From the existing three lighthouses, the government collected approximately Tk74 crore in the last four years.
In the first five months of the current fiscal year, Bangladesh earned Tk8.52 crores as light dues from the three lighthouses. In the 2018-19 fiscal year, the total income was Tk22.75 crores, Tk23.85 crore in FY2017-18 and Tk18.42 crores in FY2016-17.
The lighthouse, usually with a tower, built onshore, aids mariners in maritime coastal navigation and guides them to their destinations. They can mark dangerous coastlines, hazardous shoals, reefs, rocks and pinpoint safe entries to harbours.
Ship owners have to pay charges (light dues) in return for service from the lighthouses. Light dues are levied on commercial vessels and larger pleasure barges that call at the ports.
Most of the export-import activities of the country are operated through waterways. Chattogram port receives most of the cargo vessels that come from abroad.
After entering the maritime boundary of Bangladesh, these merchant ships have to anchor at Kutubdia off Cox's Bazar – the outer anchorage of Chattogram port.
When the ships come near the coast, mariners can ascertain their position by interpreting signals from the lighthouses.
The lights of Kutubdia lighthouse flash thrice every 10 seconds, while St Martin's lighthouse flashes twice very 15 seconds. The Cox's Bazar lighthouse flashes once every 15 seconds. Ships coming from other countries can ascertain their position in the Bay of Bengal and navigate towards their destinations.
Mercantile Marine Department Principal Officer Captain Giasuddin Ahmad said owners of sea-bound local and foreign ships and ships operating through coastal routes have to pay Tk5 per net register tonnage – cargo carrying capacity of the ship – as light dues. Vessels pay light dues at the port.
Tugs and fishing vessels (above 10 net registered ton) make an annual payment based on the registered length of the vessel. These vessels are charged with a maximum charge of Tk 2 per net registered ton.
Pleasure barges are exempt from light dues.
The source of illumination of the Cox's Bazar lighthouse had been electricity supplied by the Bangladesh Power Development Board as it is located on the mainland, but generators and solar panels are used at Kutubdia and St Martin's lighthouses.
The Chattogram Customs House collects the light dues with other charges from the ships and then hand the money over to the Mercantile Marine Department.
The luminous range of Kutubdia and the St Martins lighthouses are 19.8 nautical miles from the coast lines. Cox's Bazar lighthouse's luminous range is 24.5 nautical miles from the coast line.
"Both the luminous range and height of four upcoming lighthouses will be higher than the previous ones," said Mercantile Marine Department Electronic Engineer Baharul Islam.
He further said once the project is implemented, deployment and management of naval security arrangement, navigational assistance and communication would become easier.
Naval safety will be ensured though modern navigational assistance, vessel traffic management, and fulfil the obligations of the International Maritime Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea.
The Kutubdia lighthouse was established 1846, followed by the Cox's Bazar and the St. Martin's lighthouses in 1976.