Calling on the mother vessels
The first deep seaport of the country has a lot to offer in terms of better connectivity and reduced shipping cost and time for the exim community
Located in southern Bangladesh on the Ramnabad channel near the Bay of Bengal, the Payra Port is destined to fulfil the need for a deep sea port in Bangladesh. It will have a draft of 16 meters to welcome larger ships, ultimately eliminating the need for cargo to be transhipped via Singapore or Colombo. The development of the port is divided into short, medium and long-term plans. Under the short-term plan operations of the port with atleast 2.5km terminal are set to begin by the end of 2018. Cargo will be off-loaded from mother ships at outer anchorage and transported to hinterland through river routes. The mid-term plan includes making the port fully operational with a minimum 10km container and bulk terminals and associated facilities by 2023. The long-term plan includes establishing an export economic zone, airport, port city, dock yard, shipyard, eco-tourism. In addition to container handling, coal is said to be the second base cargo for the port as five coal-based and one Lng-based power plants with a capacity of 9,000 megawatt of electricity will be built near the port. The five plants will require 20 million tonnes of coal a year that will be primarily moved by the port.
The port will also have a bulk terminal to handle coal, a container terminal, and oil and LNG terminals. It is expected to handle 75,000 containers a year when it becomes fully operational. This capacity is five times more than the existing other sea ports. From the outer anchorage of the port imports can be easily sent to Dhaka, Narayanganj, Khulna, Barisal and other places.
The port authority has inked a dredging contract worth $600 million with Jan De Nul. Vessels with draught of up to 11 metres will be able to berth at the seaport at high tide once the first phase of dredging is completed by 2020. The second and third phases are likely to end by 2022, facilitating the entry of ships with draught of up to 14 metres to the seaport.
Chittagong and Mongla Ports can handle vessels with a draft of 8.5 meters, necessitating use of feeder vessels that adds to the cost and time. Transhipping via Singapore or Colombo, it takes almost a month for shippers to send a consignment to Europe. But if a deep sea port is developed that can let-in mother vessels then a lot of time will be saved in exports, also eliminating the use of feeder vessels. Currently, shippers have to wait weeks together to catch feeder vessels that connect mother vessels moving on the east west trade lane. Besides, an economic zone and an airport will be set up near the port.
The Ministry of Shipping is developing Payra Port with proper rail, road and waterway connectivity to Dhaka where garment industry is concentrated and most of the imports and exports also originate from the capital city. Bangladesh Railway has recently roped-in DP Rail from UK to develop 240km rail line between Dhaka and Payra seaport. The port authority hopes the seaport will help establish a new north-north economic corridor and transform the entire south-central zone of the country.
The north-eastern states of India along with the landlocked Himalayan nations of Nepal and Bhutan will be able to use the port and it can become the centre of the proposed Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar-economic Corridor.