Bangladesh - Putting Logistics on the Fast Lane
Bangladesh is ready to rise and shine, as a slew of mega infrastructure projects will breathe new life into the logistics sector, making it more vibrant
The Bangladesh economy is charging ahead with record growth figures for the second consecutive year in 2017-18, driven by doubledigit growth rate in manufacturing and construction sectors. GDP growth in fiscal 2017-18 is likely to be 7.65 per cent, up from 7.28 per cent a year earlier. This is the third consecutive year that the economic growth was above 7 per cent. The industrial sector, whose contribution to the GDP is 33.71 per cent, grew 11.99 per cent against 10.22 per cent in fiscal 201617. Manufacturing sector grew 13.18 per cent and agriculture sector grew by 3.06 per cent in 2017-18. As per World Bank report Bangladesh is in a good position for growth right now due to investment, foreign exchange savings and increasing productivity in the industrial sector. This could be the very reason for it to graduate from being a “least developing country” to become a “developing country.”
To ensure this growth is unstinted the government is rightly focusing on improving logistics infrastructure to match the pace of manufacturing and exports. The size of the annual development programme in the country rose to Tk 1,64,000 crore in 2017-18, up sevenfold from Tk 22,500 crore a decade ago. Infrastructure investments reached $6 billion in 201617 from $2 billion in 2011-12. Some of the logistics infrastructure projects in pipeline are listed below:
A floating terminal at Chittagong Port
A floating terminal is being planned at Chittagong Port, primarily to relieve congestion. It will act as a transhipment point where containers from feeder vessels will be offloaded to smaller ships that will connect to Inland Container Terminals near Dhaka. Vessels from Dhaka and inland terminals across Bangladesh can bring cargo to the floating terminal where containers will be loaded onto vessels bound for Colombo and Singapore. Currently, about 70 per cent of the cargo at Chittagong Port is destined from and to Dhaka. Dhaka based shippers will be able to avoid the congestion at Chittagong Port and on the highways if they use this floating terminal.
ICD near Dhirasram Railway Station
To accommodate the growing containerised traffic at Chittagong Port, a new ICD is planned near Dhirasram Railway station attached to the Dhaka eastern by-pass road. Developed on approximately 55 hectares of land, the ICD will have a handling capacity of 3,54,000 teus. It will have a railway spur of 6 km connecting the ICD with the national railway network on around 26 hectares land.
Industries like readymade garments in particular which are shifting to areas north of Dhaka, the woven mills situated in Mirpur, Tejgaon, Demra and factories on Dhaka-sylhet Highway, Dhaka
EPZ, Savar, Tongi, Gazipur etc. are accessible to the proposed ICD Site at Dhirasram. It is also ideally suited for containerization of Indo-bangla trade in the near future.
The ICD aims to increase the number of container movements by rail in the key Dhaka-chittagong transport corridor with regionally competitive transport costs and more reliable movement of import and export cargo. It will promote modal shift for import/export cargo from break bulk movement by truck to container movement by rail.
Laldia bulk terminal
A key constraint faced by Chittagong Port is the lack of any specialist terminals to handle bulk cargo. Currently the bulk cargo is being handled at the existing container terminals; however, this is not a viable long term solution. The lack of dedicated equipment for bulk cargo, and the strong growth of container and bulk cargo volumes are having an adverse impact on ships waiting time and the overall performance of the port. To meet this increase in bulk cargo volumes and improve performance of port operations, government has prioritized the establishment of a dedicated bulk cargo handling facility.
The government has primarily selected Laldia Char as a strategically appropriate location for developing a bulk cargo handling terminal. The terminal will have four jetties, two for container vessels and two for bulk cargo carriers, and is estimated to cost about $301.60 million.
Railway ICD at Gazipur
The government is planning to construct a new ICD for
Bangladesh Railway at Gazipur to expand container service across the country. Freight trains can come to the proposed Gazipur ICD from Chittagong and then load and unload their containers for sending to the northern districts.
Redeveloping Inland Container Terminal (ICT) at Khanpur
Situated on the Shitalakhya river in Narayanganj District the ICT Khanpur is spread on an area of 14 acres. It is well connected through inland water transport and can help to relieve the congestion on Dhakachittagong road. It can efficiently handle containers to be transported by inland waterways from/to the maritime ports of Chittagong and Mongla. The ICT has an annual capacity of 80,000 teus.
Inland container river port in Ashuganj
With a second line of credit from India, the Bangladesh government is setting up an inland container river port in Ashuganj that will promote regional and sub-regional trade. Estimated cost of the project is Tk1,293 crore. The port can handle 400,000 teus of containers every year and can be used to connect the seven sister states of India.
Tunnel under river Karnaphuli
About 24 per cent of the work on Karnaphuli tunnel has been completed. The 3.5 kilometres long four-lane tunnel, country’s first-ever tunnel, will make Chittagong into ‘One City Two Towns’, modelled on east and west Shanghai of China.
The total length of the proposed tunnel will be around 9.092 kilometres including 3.40 kilometres tunnel under the Karnaphuli River with an approach road of 4.89 kilometres alongside 740 metres of bridges linking the main port city, and western side of the Karnaphuli along with the heavy industry-prone eastern side of the river. The tunnel will cut the road distance between Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar, apart from facilitating the heavy traffic on Dhaka-chittagong Highway entering the port city to go to other parts of Chittagong division.
With these and many more logistics projects in the pipeline, the shipping community can be assured to experience a more vibrant logistics scenario in the days to come.