The government has taken an initiative to conduct dredging at the outer bar in the 131-kilometre-long Pashur Channel to enhance Mongla Port's ship handling capacity.
The port cannot handle ships larger than 8.5-metre draft at the anchorage as its outer bar does not allow bigger ships. Some 104 lakh cubic metres of dredging will be conducted under a navigability improvement project to help ships up to 10.5-metre draft enter the port during natural tide, said Commodore Faruq Hassan, chairman of Mongla Port Authority.
When the large ships are stuck in the shoal in the outer anchorage of Mongla port, they have to unload goods with the help of small vessels, which consumes much time and causes difficulties, especially if another ship comes on the way, he said.
“Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) approved the Tk 712 crore project for dredging in the port's outer bar on November 14 and tender will be called for the purpose next month,” he said.
“Due to the depth problem, we have to load and unload the ships in the outer bar. As the lighter ships take more time to carry the goods, the port users and ship owners have to face huge losses. When the dredging will be completed, all concerned will be benefited,” said Saiful Islam, secretary of Mongla Port Users Coordination Committee.
Captain Rafiqul Islam, chairman of Bangladesh Shipping Agents Association, said, “Many importers and exporters of this region using large foreign ships with 9 to 10 metres draft opt for Chittagong Port as the cost of import and export of goods is less in case of larger ships.”
“We the port users are counting extra costs in absence of dredging in the outer bar,” said HM Dulal, a port user.
During the last two decades, 18 foreign ships including five big ones sank in the channel, and it caused worsening of the siltation problem, port sources said.