National, Front Page

Test voyage to deep seaport in Jan

Published : 13 Nov 2020 10:27 PM | Updated : 15 Dec 2020 07:58 AM

A mother vessel will berth for the first time at the deep seaport in Maheshkhali's Matarbari in January next year, a milestone in the history of the country’s shipping sector.

The experimental ship will bring machinery and construction materials for the Matarbari coal-fired power plant.

Basically the port infrastructure constructed under the 1,300 MW coal-fired power plant project by state-run Coal Power Generation Company Bangladesh Limited (CPGCBL) consists of two units of 650 MW each on 1,500 acres of land in Matarbari at a cost of Tk 50,000 crore.

The country's most coveted  deep-sea port facility, Matarbari Port, is being developed for importing coal required for the power plant with the financial and technical support of Japan.

The Chattogram Port authority says that the experimental operation of the deep seaport in the country will start mainly through this mother ship berthing.

Navigational channel and two jetties have been built to transport coal and other cargo to the power plant, which can accommodate large ships suitable for deep-sea navigation. The Chattogram Port Authority is involved in the operation of these jetties and maintains the channel constructed under the power plant project.

“A large  ship carrying power plant cargo will arrive at the jetty by mid-January 2021, Rear Admiral SM Abul Kalam Azad, Chairman of the Chattogram Port Authority said, “the ship was being brought to the deep seaport on a trial basis, as the first ship to bring goods here will have a depth of at least 16 meters. This type of ship has not anchored in any port of the country in the past.”

He said the channel dug for the deep seaport at Matarbari will make shipping easier than the Karnaphuli River. Ships of any shape with a depth of 16 meters can dock there.

At present, Chattogram port, the premier port of the country, which handles 90 percent of overseas trade, is approving ships only with a maximum length of 186 meters and a depth of 9.14 meters.

A 14.5-kilometre channel has been dug from the main sea to Matarbari power plant for the arrival of large ships, with a width of 250 meters and a depth of more than 18 meters. Ships 16 meters deep will be able to dock here easily, which so far is the only dock at the Bay of Bengal outside the Chattogram port.

Abul Kalam Azad, Project Director of the coal-fired power plant, said 90 percent of construction work on the two jetties has been completed. When the power plant is commissioned by 2024, the two jetties will be used to unload coal and fuel oil.

“Overall progress of the power plant is around 40 percent,” said Abul Kalam Azad. Initial infrastructure of the deep seaport is a priority for easy handling of goods of this mega project.  At present goods are being imported through Chattogram port, but if the port facilities in Matarbari start working, significant time and cost will be saved,” he added.

The length of the two jetties built by the coal power plant is 250 meters and 300 meters respectively. Ships will now be anchored at the temporary jetties where ships up to a maximum length of 300 meters can be loaded

“All preparations will be completed by December for the ship docking at Matarbari in January,” said Rear Admiral Abul Kalam Azad.

“The experimental shipping in January will basically ensure the effectiveness of the channel dug for the deep sea port, he added.”

With these two jetties of the coal-fired power plant the CPA is constructing two multi-purpose jetties and a container terminal by 2026 at a cost of Tk 17,700 crore.  At the same time the width of the existing channel will be increased from 250 meters to 350 meters. Then Matarbari will become a full-fledged deep sea port with four jetties.

Two jetties are being built by Chattogram Port -- one is the multipurpose berth measuring 300 meters long and another is a container berth which will be 460 meters long. These jetties will be able to handle ships with 8,000 containers at the depth of 16 meters.

The Roads and Highways Department is constructing a separate road to connect the deep sea port with the Chattogram-Cox's Bazar road.

The forecast for 2041 in several surveys showed the container cargo demand for Chattogram port would increase to 6.9 million TEUs.

As the future capacity of the country's premier port is assessed at an estimated 5.0 million TEUs, the excess volume would be handled at the Matarbari deep-sea port.