Shipbuilding industry holds huge potential

Published : 23 Aug 2022 08:08 PM

The country's shipbuilding industry is dreaming of new possibilities. This industry is contributing to create employment for the people of the country. According to economists, new horizons will open up in the economy if the ships manufactured in Bangladesh start being exported abroad. Khulna Shipyard in Rupsa Par built the first warship on the country's soil.

Since then various types of ships are being manufactured here for Navy, Coast Guard and Pyara Port Authority. Due to mismanagement, the once loss-making company has turned around and has now become a profitable company. In 2017, Khulna Shipyard created new possibilities in the shipbuilding industry in the country by building two warships 'Large Patrol Craft' for the Bangladesh Navy. At sea, this ship can carry 70 sailors together with automatic missiles and sophisticated weapons. The company has set an example by manufacturing the country's largest 70 meter long 3 Landing Craft Tank LCT. Equipped with the latest technology and machinery, each vessel can transport 6 medium-sized tanks simultaneously. During the war, this ship is also capable of conducting land and sea operations in coastal areas.   Rear Admiral Mohammad Anwar Hossain, Commander of Khulna Naval Region, Khulna Shipyard has proved its success and capability by building such ships. The Chairman of Mongla Port Authority said that Khulna Shipyard has acquired the ability to survive in the competition in the shipbuilding industry.  This company started about 65 years ago. Later in 1999 it was transferred to the Navy. The managing director of Khulna Shipyard said that it has regained its lost glory since then.   Meanwhile, Barishal's shipbuilding industry along the banks of the Kirtankhola is giving hope to the economy of the southern region. Barishal's shipbuilding industry is making progress by building international quality passenger and cargo ships. This industry is also playing a role in removing local unemployment. Local workers are involved in the construction work. Entrepreneurs also believe that it is possible to build international standard ships in Barishal if they get government patronage, gas, uninterrupted electricity and low interest loans.

It is known that although the entrepreneurs are interested, there is still no interest from public and private banks to invest in the ship building industry of Barishal. Only Islami Bank Bangladesh, Janata Bank and Dhaka Bank have invested in this sector on a limited basis. However, the entrepreneurs involved in this industry have reported the high interest rates and the long delay in getting bank loans.

Riaz-ul Kabir, director of Surabhi Shipping Lines, said that starting this business in Barishal was very challenging. At that time, skilled craftsmen were not available in Barishal. Shipbuilding work was started in Barishal by bringing workers from Dhaka. Working as their collaborators, the workers and artisans of Barishal have now become very efficient. As a result, there is no need to bring workers from outside. Wages are also lower in Barishal than anywhere else in the country. That is why 30 percent cost saving is achieved by building ships in Barishal.

Saidur Rahman Rintu, owner of Sundarban Navigation, said that many workers work in a shipyard. Each four-story launch takes more than a year and a half to build. And all this time workers and engineers have to spend busy time. Because shipyard works 24 hours a day. When asked what kind of work is done, he said, after bringing the iron plates to Barishal, they are cleaned in a specific manner and then cut. The plates have to be added to the structure as per the instructions of the engineers. Not only this, masonry is also required for laying the launch structure. Day and night the workers cut the plates and put them in the structure. At one point, anti-rust paint has to be applied. Then after making a certain amount of cabins and other infrastructure, the interior decoration has to be done. Electrical connection work has to be done. AC, TV, fridge and canteen have to be arranged for entertainment and comfortable journey. All in all, many levels of manpower are required to build each launch. In that case, most of this manpower is from our Barisal. But in many cases manpower has to be brought from other parts of the country due to lack of skills. About 5-6 hundred manpower spends busy time in each shipyard every year.

Regarding the economic prosperity surrounding the shipyard, Rintu also said that when 5-6 hundred people or workers work in a place, various shops or business establishments are built to meet their daily needs. Like tea shop grocery shop salon etc. And these small businesses are being built by the locals and their families are able to live with their families.

World-class ships are being built here with a mix of domestic and foreign technology. Adventure Ship Builders is going to export ships abroad after domestic ships.

The manager of Sundarban Navigation Md. Mizanur Rahman said that due to the quality of work, they have received an order to build two ships from India. 5-7 ship building industries have developed in Barishal. 3 to 3,500 ton cargo ships are being built in Barishal, which are suitable for plying on international routes. Two to two and a half thousand workers are working in this industry.   This industry is becoming the new address of employment. Entrepreneurs say that the industry will stand tall by competing with the facility of gas and raw materials and getting loans on easy terms. And the workers working in this industry say that they are becoming sustainable by eliminating unemployment.