Deal tomorrow for Patenga terminal’s foreign operator
A much-awaited deal with a Saudi firm to operate the newly-built Patenga Container Terminal (PCT) at the Chattogram port is set to be signed tomorrow.
The signing between Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) and Red Sea Gateway Terminal International (RSGTI) will be held at the Prime Minister's Office tomorrow morning, said sources.
Prime Minister Shiekh Hasina is scheduled to join the ceremony at 10:40am.
The government nominated the Saudi firm to maintain, equip and operate the terminal for 22 years under a public-private partnership (PPP) model through a government-to-government partnership.
RSGTI is a sister concern of Red Sea Gateway Terminal (RSGT), the operator of Saudi Arabia's largest terminal facility at Jeddah Islamic Port.
CPA Secretary Md Omar Faruk told The Daily Star that they received a letter from the foreign ministry on Sunday night about the signing on Wednesday on the sidelines of a high-profile Saudi delegate's visit.
A Saudi delegation led by Saudi Investment Minister Engineer Khalid Bin Falih is scheduled to arrive in Dhaka in the evening today, said sources.
The prime minister inaugurated the terminal on November 14.
Following years of demand from the business community for expansion of the Chattogram port, the authority in 2017 took up the project for constructing the PCT.
Construction of the terminal on around 32 acres of land comprising three 200-metre-long jetties and a 220-metre dolphin jetty was completed in July last year.
Though the port authority has been berthing vessels at PCT on a trial basis so far, the terminal could not be made fully operational as the appointment of a foreign operator could not be finalised.
A CPA technical team finalised negotiations with the RSGTI on its technical and financial offers last month, paving the way for the signing of the agreement.
This is for the first time a foreign operator is going to run a terminal of the country's premier port.
Expressing satisfaction over the upcoming appointment of a foreign operator for the PCT, Bangladesh Shipping Agent Association (BSAA) Chairman Syed M Arif hoped for it to enhance competitiveness and efficiency among other private operators.
The new terminal can be made operational within four months of the signing of the agreement, informed a senior CPA official.
Initially, small container handling equipment like mobile cranes, forklifts and reach stackers can be brought by the operator, he said.
The firm will get two years to purchase and install heavy equipment like quayside gantry cranes (QGCs) and rubber-tyred gantry cranes and only then will the terminal be fully operational, he said.
"The firm will be appointed to run PCT for 22 years. The initial two years is for installing the heavy equipment and these heavy machineries usually have a (economic) lifetime of 20 years," he informed.
The PCT has the capacity to handle five lakh TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) of containers annually.
Three vessels with 11 metre draft will be able to berth at a time in the terminal, that too in the shortest possible time given its close proximity to the Karnaphuli estuary.