Meghna Group, an importer of consumer goods and manufacturer of industrial goods, is adding two oceangoing ships bearing Bangladeshi flags to its fleet.
The two bulk carriers – MV Meghna Princess and MV Meghna Adventure – will transport industrial raw materials to Bangladesh from different countries.
State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury will formally inaugurate the two ships from the outer harbour of Chattogram Port on Wednesday.
Bangladesh spends about $9 billion to transport goods by sea. Of these, 10% to 15% goods are transported by domestic flag carriers. With the addition of two new ships carrying the country's flag, Bangladesh's participation in the transportation of goods by sea routes is expected to increase.
Mahbubul Alam, president of the Chattogram Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told The Business Standard, "The world trade is mainly centred on sea transport. Although the import and export trade expands in Bangladesh every year, the number of domestic ships has not increased much. However, in the last two years, this number has started to increase. The addition of two new ships of the Meghna Group to the international seas at a time when corona has had a negative impact on international trade is a milestone for the country's economy."
Sources said the traders are investing in this sector due to the enactment of the Bangladeshi Flag Carrier Safety Act 2019 and the creation of a business-friendly environment through VAT exemption for registration of ships with a capacity of more than 5,000 DWT.
Captain Md Giashuddin Ahmed, principal officer of Mercantile Marine Department, said at present, there are 62 sea-going merchant ships carrying the Bangladeshi flag. Of these, 49 are bulk carriers, 11 are tankers and two are container vessels. In 2020, 15 ships were registered.
According to the Mercantile Marine Department, before 2012, there were 72 Bangladeshi-flag bearing oceangoing ships. In 2012, this number came down to 35. In 2016, it increased to 36. In a span of two years, the number of ships increased from 36 to 72.
Md Mizanur Rahman, deputy general manager of Meghna Group, told TBS, "After the inauguration, MV Meghna Princess will start its journey to Brazil for sugar products. The other ship, MV Meghna Adventurer, has started its journey from the Chattogram Port on February 14 for a port of Brazil to transport sugar. It is scheduled to reach the port on March 15. On the way back, the ship will leave for Chattogram loaded with sugar. The new two Meghna Group ships will transport goods of the group as well as the goods of other companies."
MdAbu Taher, chief engineer of Meghna Group's subsidiary Mercantile Shipping, said the two new ships were made in Japan. The Meghna Group has been involved in shipping since 2010. The Meghna Group has 12 ships carrying the Bangladeshi flag, including the two new ships. Two of them are oil and chemical tankers and the remaining 10 are bulk carriers. Meghna Group is planning to add six more bulk carriers to its fleet.