Despite prolonged lock-down and various other inconveniences that prevailed amid the Covid-19 epidemic, the Chittagong port performed its overall activities successfully and achieved a record in container handling last year. Rear Admiral M Shahjahan, the chairman of the port, has talked to The Business Standard regarding this praiseworthy achievement and shared their plans for further development of the port.
How was a record container handling possible for the Chittagong port amid the Covid-19 epidemic?
The prime minister instructed us to continue the operational activities of the port in coordination with life and livelihood. We have implemented those guidelines and achieved a record in 2021 in all areas including container handling, cargo handling and turnaround of ships at the port.
Additionally, the deliberation, foresight, planning and hard work of the port officials and coordination with the stakeholders have contributed to keeping the operational activities in full swing 24/7 during the epidemic. Whereas many ports in different countries were closed, we kept the whole port operational with minimum manpower. Unfortunately, we lost 53 of our employees to the pandemic.
This achievement belongs to all our stakeholders and partners. We have coordinated in all relevant areas, including highway police and district administration to keep the port operational.
What are the plans for the port to sustain this achievement?
The development work of the port is going on continuously. We are increasing the yard space. Authorities are working to ensure that ships arriving at the port can leave quickly after unloading.
How do you see the overall achievement of the port?
I would like to express my gratitude to all stakeholders, including off dock owners, shipping agents, C&F agents, freight forwarders, terminal operators, and berth and ship handling operators. Besides, I am grateful to the Navy and Coast Guard who are working to bring piracy to zero.
Containers at the port have been delayed due to container and ship congestion at the transhipment port. Otherwise, the container handling would have increased.
What are the ongoing projects to increase the port's capacity?
Patenga Container Terminal is being constructed. When the project is completed in 2022, this terminal will be able to handle about 4.45 lakh containers per year. Also, the Bay Terminal project is scheduled to be completed by 2024. It would be about four times larger than the Chittagong port.
Work is also underway on the Matarbari Deep Sea Port project supposed to be completed in the middle of 2025. Ships with a draft of 18.5 metres will be able to dock at the terminal of Matarbari port. This port can accommodate 8,000-10,000 container ships.