Maritime Allied Infrastructure
A clear picture of where Bangladesh stands in the global scenario in shipbuilding, bunkering and the significance of river dredging for the country was placed before the audience
Even though Singapore is not an oil producing country but 60 per cent of the total bunkering takes place at Singapore, while 24 per cent takes place in Dubai,” revealed Commodore Zulfiqur Aziz (E) PSC, BN, Chairman, Chattogram Port Authority, Bangladesh. The session deliberated on the opportunities and challenges in dredging, shipbuilding and bunkering and how they can be overcome?
“If we see the statistics, only 3 countries are in the forefront in shipbuilding – Korea, Japan and China. Even though Bangladesh is lagging behind in this sector, but not to that extent,” shared Rear Admiral (Retd.) Md. Khurshed Alam, Hon’ble Secretary, Maritime Affairs Unit, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of People’s Republic of Bangladesh. Currently Bangladesh has 0.57 per cent of the world’s total shipbuilding, but if it is increased to one per cent, then it will total to about $200 billion market. Bangladesh has been building ships for the past 100 years and the country can further develop the industry. Singapore tops in bunkering, followed by Cochin Port that does about a million tonnes bunkering, but Chittagong port does not provide bunkering service and this aspect needs the attention of the government. South Asian nations also need to focus on LNG bunkering as only Singapore is prepared to supply LNG bunkering. Bangladesh has paid $5 billion to ships carrying its exim cargo. If Bangladesh develops its own fleet then atleast 40 per cent of this cost could be saved. Currently the Shipping Corporation of Bangladesh has only 2 ships hence there is huge potential for entrepreneurs to explore this domain.
Md. Sakhawat Hossain, MD, Western Marine Shipyard Ltd, Bangladesh discussed in detail the status of shipbuilding in Bangladesh and where it stands in the global scenario? Bangladesh builds ships for European markets, South America, East Africa and to neighbours like India, Pakistan, Dubai. In the next five years, the total market will be about $200 billion and Bangladesh can tap atleast $2 billion from it. Demand for new ships is growing in the coastal shipping market which is about 43 per cent. Starting in 1922, today Bangladesh has ten shipyards of international standards, in addition there are about 110 shipyards and dockyards that can meet the growing demand from coastal shipping. By 2030 Bangladesh plans to rise above being a middle income country and the shipbuilding sector can be a significant revenue generator in this context.
“World shipbuilding has seen an unprecedented crisis over the past decade. In 2007 world shipbuilding order was 1,0055 units divided across major shipbuilding nations such as S.korea, Japan, Vietnam. Ten years down the line in 2016, the order book has shrunk to 4851 units,” informed Tariqul Islam, Executive Director, Ananda Group, Bangladesh. His discussion revolved around how shipbuilding has contributed to the growth of maritime logistics in the country. Bangladesh shipyards can build ships of upto 20,000 DWT. Most of the shipyards are located on the banks of major rivers like Meghna, Karnaphuli. Till 2017, Bangladesh has built about 1684 units of ships of various types and sizes. The current industrial policy has declared shipbuilding as a thrust sector. Combined export earnings from this sector is about $200 million, which indicates the potential in the sector for contributing to the improvement of the nation’s economy.
“Rivers Ganga, Yamuna, Brahmaputra and Meghna are
depleting, especially during the dry season and are further being polluted by growing volume of sludge which is a glaring problem for Bangladesh, as rivers form a major part of the marine logistics system in the country,” revealed Dr Muzibur Rahman Howlader, Chairman, National
River Conservation Commission, Bangladesh. This background makes dredging of rivers very necessary and in the coming years the quantum of dredging has to be increased to meet the growing draft requirements. Laws and rules need to be simplified for shipbuilding and dredging so that ASEAN nations can better collaborate on this front.
“Bangladesh is the natural gateway between South Asia and Southeast Asia and the fastest growing economy in the world, but the 2017 World Economic Forum report ranks Bangladesh logistics infrastructure at 111 out of 138 nations ranked, ” shared Abul Kasem Khan, President, Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry. As per IMF data Bangladesh is the 43rd largest economy in terms of nominal GDP and as per the latest report of Price Waterhouse Coopers, Bangladesh will become the 28th largest economy by 2030. It will be larger than Vietnam, South Africa and the Netherlands. By the year 2050 Bangladesh will be the 23rd largest economy of the world. An injection of about $320 million will be needed into the economy by 2030 for infrastructure development, of which, about $250 million will be needed for roads, and other logistics services. Inland water transport should be developed to play a major role in cargo movement, only then can the roads and ports be decongested. Storage and warehousing is also a major element of logistics and needs to be developed along with the growing needs of the trade. Bangladesh also ranks poorly at 87th position in the Logistics Performance Index report of the World Bank in 2016. The country is far behind India, Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand in terms of quality infrastructure. Although the infrastructure competitiveness has been improved from 114 to 111 rank, but still remains at the bottom along with other south Asian nations. Considering the RMG sector is the second largest in the world, it needs to be supported by world class logistics and maritime facilities such that the trade does not lose its competitive position in the global scenario.
The government has already sprang into action with the establishment of the new terminals including the Bay Terminal. These projects need to be fast-tracked and should become functional at the earliest to facilitate expansion of trade in Bangladesh. To expedite maritime development in the country, a single maritime authority titled National Maritime and Ports Authority needs to be created, given the current need to develop, monitor and regulate maritime infrastructure, supported by a robust business and investment climate to ensure overall competitiveness of the country and encourage more private sector participation under a level playing field ecosystem.
Major (Retd.) Rafiqul Islam
(Bir Uttam), MP, President, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Shipping, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, reiterated the words of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, “It is not that I want only Bangladesh to prosper, I want all the neighbouring countries to prosper as well.” Competition is good, but it should be for developing each other and not to destroy each other. Considering the meagre share of Bangladesh in shipbuilding the country should strive to come at par with Japan and Korea in the near future. The demand for dredging will increase manifold in the days to come, considering the level of silting in the rivers.
While maritime aspects of India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have been discussed in the forum but other
South Asian nations have been missed out, remarked Rafiqul Islam and expected the 3rd edition of SAMLF to house a detailed gathering from all the South Asian countries so that the opportunities and challenges of the entire region can be discussed and understood as a whole.
(L to R) Md. Sakhawat Hossain, MD, Western Marine Shipyard Ltd; Commodore Zulfiqur Aziz (E) PSC, BN, Chairman, Chattogram Port Authority;Rear Admiral (Retd.) Md. Khurshed Alam, Hon’ble Secretary, Maritime Affairs Unit, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of People’s Republic of Bangladesh; Major (Retd.) Rafiqul Islam (Bir Uttam), MP, President, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Shipping, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh; Dr Muzibur Rahman Howlader, Chairman, National River Conservation Commission; Abul Kasem Khan, President, Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Tariqul Islam, Executive Director, Ananda Group
An attentive audience listening to the panelists
Rear Admiral (Retd.) Md. Khurshed Alam, Hon’ble Secretary, Maritime Affairs Unit, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of People’s Republic of Bangladesh, details on Shipbuilding in Bangladesh