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50pc cotton, capital machinery to be delivered through Pangaon Inland Container Terminal

downloadAt least 50 per cent containers stuffed with raw cotton and capital machineries will be delivered through the newly built Pangaon ICT (Inland Container Terminal) to make it operational, sources said.The ministry of shipping (MoS) has taken the decision recently as the terminal remains virtually non-operational for months after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina formally inaugurated it on November 7, 2013.Only one vessel came to the terminal from Chittagong port nearly one month after the inauguration following hectic persuasion from the Prime Minister’s Office and the MoS. But no Chittagong port bound vessel left the ICT so far due to the dearth of outbound cargoes. Officials said traders are showing least interest to use the terminal as carrying goods to and from Chittagong port to the ICT takes much higher time compared to carrying those by road.

A container laden vessel to and from Chittagong port needs 1.5 days to reach the ICT while only eight hours are needed for a container carrying vehicle from Dhaka to reach the country’s prime sea port by road. Besides, only two vessels could be arranged so far for the terminal to carry goods to and from Chittagong port which also discourages traders to use the ICT, businesses said. Another vessel, bought by the Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) for the terminal, is yet to reach the country.

Sources said delivering 50 per cent containers of raw cotton and capital machineries through the ICT is going to be made mandatory so that the terminal can be made operational.”The terminal remains idle as no containers reach there for carrying. As a result huge manpower from the terminal, customs, and security people are also sitting idle alongside getting no return from investment,” said a senior MoS official.He said had the port was built and operated by a private sector company with no return for several months.”So, we need to make the terminal operational in any way. The Prime Minister’s Office is very eager to see the ICT fully operational,” the official added.

Sources said the MoS has decided to review the container carrying charge to make use of the terminal attractive to the traders. The tariff difference in carrying of loaded and empty container will be 25 per cent, sources said.Steps will be taken to collect more vessels for the terminal, sources said. The government and private sector people were given permission to import or build some 42 vessels.

Only 27 companies have taken initiative to import or build vessels while Western Marine Shipyard has already started construction of one vessel, sources said.Besides, Chittagong based FMC Dockyard has taken preparation to start construction of one vessel while Bangladesh Navy is building two more vessels.

Vice President of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) Shahidullah Azim told the FE earlier that there were still some procedural complications which discourages exporters to use the terminal.”If you want to use the ICT, you will have to carry goods from factory to Pangaon. Then stockpile those in godowns. Then again load the vessels with the same and unload those in Chittagong port. Then load those in feeder vessels towards mother vessel. The process will cause much delay,” he said.Mr Azim said the exporters still prefer road transportation to river route since the former is comparatively faster than the latter. He said making Pangaon operational with adequate cargoes will take some more time.

President of Exporters Association of Bangladesh (EAB) Abdus Salam Murshedy told the FE that exporters were now sending goods abroad whose letters of credit have mention of using Chittagong port as port of call. So, they cannot use Pangaon presently instead of sending goods directly to Chittagong port.He said coordination among Bangladesh Bank, the National Board of Revenue, stakeholders and the Pangaon authority is needed to make the container terminal functional. Mr Murshedy said Pangaon authority will have to make coordination of sailing vessels so that cargoes can reach the Chittagong port before the mother vessels sail.

Report: Syful Islam
Source: Financial Express

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