Two new inland container depots may be operational by this year

JASIM UDDIN HAROON | Saturday, 31 July 2021

The construction of two new private inland container depots (ICDs) in Chattogram is going on in full swing, and those may come into operation within the next six to eight months.

The ICDs are - Bay Link Containers in Barabkunda area, approximately 35 kilometres off the Chittagong Port, and Anchorage Containers Depot, about 10 kilometres.

When completed, two ICDs together will be able to store more than 12,000 TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) of containers at a time.

Anchorage Containers Depot, being built on 20 acres of land, is now in the final stage of negotiation for partnership with CMA CGM, a France-based company and the world's third largest shipping line by fleet.

Bay Link Containers, sponsored by a textile group in Dhaka, is building it on its own.

Such new container depots or off-docks will enhance capacity of the Chattogram Port, which often faces problems such as berthing delays of ships and congestion of containers, opined insiders.

The joining of two new ICDs will help reduce stay time of ships at the port, and the consignees will be able to avoid surcharges for overstay of vessels. Besides, the lead-time of export items will decrease as well, they added.

ICDs or dry ports are specialised facilities to process containers, used for shipment and import. Bangladesh now has 19 depots with an aggregate capacity of 78,000 TEUs. They handle 100 per cent of export cargoes and 25 per cent of import cargoes.

"The construction of the dry ports is moving ahead," one port consultant told the FE on Friday.

"We expect that both the depots will come into operation within the next six to eight months, as all required civil works have already been completed," he added.

The depots will invest more than Tk 1.0 billion, excluding the land. Their construction was disrupted for some time due to unavailability of workers amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

One top executive of an ICD said the old depots had started their operation at a time when the country's export was only worth around US$5.0 billion a year.

"We now handle export goods worth around $35 billion," he added.

The volume of Bangladesh's external trade - export and import of goods - has increased sharply during the past two to three decades following the country's higher economic growth and supply of competitive clothing products in the global market.

Bangladesh now handles over 3.0 million TEUs of containers, which was one-third or 1.0 million TEUs just 15 years back.

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