Karnaphuli to expand fleet of container vessels
Within a year of stepping into container feeder vessels operation between Chattogram and two regional hub ports, Karnaphuli Ltd is going to buy four more ships to expand its footprint in the region.
HR Lines Ltd, a subsidiary of Karnaphuli Ltd, is set to inaugurate a weekly service on the Chattogram-Colombo route by March with two vessels to be deployed under the name of Chattogram-Colombo Express (CCE).
With the two, the number of container feeder vessels owned by the Bangladeshi firm will go up to four among at least 65 vessels currently operating between Chattogram and four transhipment hub ports, namely Colombo, Singapore and two Malaysian ports Port Klang and Tanjung Pelepas.
Karnaphuli is the only owner of Bangladeshi flagged container vessels in the market long dominated by non-Bangladeshi ships.
In June last year, the firm launched two container feeder vessels -- MV Sahare and MV Sarera -- with a capacity of 1,550 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) each on the Chattogram-Singapore-Port Klang route as Bangladesh Express Service (BES).
The firm has signed agreements with two Singaporean firms to procure the four container feeder vessels at around Tk 225 crore.
Two vessels -- MV HR Hera and MV HR Rhea -- each having capacity of 1,454 TEUs are expected to arrive at the Chattogram port within a week, said Hamdan Hossain Chowdhury, director of Karnaphuli Ltd.
The preliminary paperwork to register the vessel has been completed. The two vessels will be deployed for the inaugural voyage of CCE service by March.
Two other vessels with a capacity of 1,550 TEUs will be delivered in July or August and deployed on the Chattogram-Colombo route to raise the service twice a week.
"Bangladesh's economy has continued to make impressive strides. In order to sustain this momentum, Karnaphuli will continue to invest significantly in the logistics sector," Chowdhury said.
"Our focus is on helping the country's exporters meet their deadlines, reduce the cost of our importers, and enhance our economy's competitiveness."
Around 2.30 lakh TEUs of import, export and empty containers are transported between Chattogram and the regional hub ports every month.
HR Lines Managing Director Raimah Chowdhury said, "With the launching of CCE, we expect to move about 240,000 TEUs between Bangladesh and three major transhipment hubs of Singapore, Port Klang and Colombo in 2021."
"We want to be a premium common use feeder operator in the region flying Bangladesh's flag."