Chittagong Port’s Patenga Container Terminal (PCT) has begun operations on a trial basis with the unloading of a rice-laden vessel from Myanmar.
A vessel named MCL-19, carrying some 2,650 tonne of rice, docked at the newly built terminal on Tuesday.
The development marks the unofficial introduction of a new terminal at the Chittagong Port after 15 long years.
The Newmooring Container Terminal (NCT) was built back in 2007. Construction work of the PCT was concluded earlier this year.
A ship had to cross a distance of some 14km on River Karnaphuli to reach the main jetty of the port. However, with the introduction of the PCT, that distance has now been cut down to 6km.
Speaking with The Business Standard, Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) Secretary Md Omar Farooq said, “Until the PCT is made fully operational, relatively small gearless ships carrying government imported rice will be handled here.
“The installation of all necessary equipment and the process to hire a suitable operator for the terminal may take some more time.”
Contacted, Mahbubul Alam, president of the Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI), said “The launch of PCT is undoubtedly positive news for the country’s import and export trade.
“However, if the operator recruitment process for the terminal gets delayed, we will not be able to enjoy its benefits. Therefore, authorities must launch the PCT at 100% of its capacity as soon as possible.”
The terminal was all set to be inaugurated on a trial basis in July. But the date was later rescheduled.
The local agent of the vessel is Seven Seas Shipping Lines Limited while the stevedore is Messer’s AW Khan.
Even though the rice-laded ship docked yesterday, the stevedoring company started unloading the goods this morning. The rice is being sent to the CSDs in Halisahar and Dewanhat.
About 92% of the country’s import and export goods pass through Chittagong Port. Currently, the port has 19 jetties at three terminals: General Cargo Berth (GCB), Container Terminal (CCT) and New Mooring Container Terminal (NCT).
After the opening of the Patenga terminal, the number of jetties will increase to 23.
The port can currently accommodate ships with a maximum of 9.5 metres of draft and 190 metres of length.
The PCT is able to accommodate ships with 10.5 metres of draft and 200 metres of length.
The PCT, built on a 32-acre site, will be able to handle about 4.5 lakh TEUs of containers per year.
The terminal has three containers and an oil unloading (dolphin) jetty. Four ships can be docked at a time there.
Tk1,229 has been spent on the construction of the new terminal.
The Chittagong Port handled some 827,112 TEUs in FY2005-06. The figure rose to 3,255,358 TEUs in FY2021-22 – a 393% growth in the last 15 years.