DHAKA, Mar 31 (BSS) - The Inland Container River Terminal (ICT) at Pangaon, Keraniganj, first of its kind in Bangladesh, will start functioning by this year end, official told BSS today.
"We have already completed the major construction work of the project including bridges, jetties and 4.5 kilometers link roads, and are hopeful that the terminal would be operational by December this year," project director of the ICT Mojibur Rahman Sardar said.
Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) and Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) are jointly constructing the terminal at a cost of Taka 177.57 crore.
Sardar said the terminal is designed for facilitating transportation of containers from Chittagong and Mongla ports to Dhaka by using waterways. Shuttle vessels or small barges will carry containers from these two ports to and from Dhaka on river route.
"We are now waiting for appointment of an operator for the terminal. The shipping ministry has made significant progress towards this end," he said.
The container terminal will not only help ease traffic congestion on the Dhaka- Chittagong highway, but also cut carrying cost of goods, he said.
According to a World Bank report, container transportation on roads cost Taka 4.50 per kilometre when the cost for water ways is only Taka 0.98.
The ICT will be equipped with three jetties and modern container-handling equipment, including gantry cranes and will able to handle 1,16,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) containers annually.
At present, Bangladesh Railway carries around 80,000 TEUs containers a year mostly for apparel manufacturers, which is only 10 percent of the total containers. The rests are transported on roads, resulting in huge traffic congestions, high business cost and delay in shipments.
Tofayel Kabir Khan, managing director of Khan Brothers Shipbuilding Ltd (KBSL), one of the pioneers in building ships, welcomed the government's move and said the ICT will create scope for more businesses.
"Dhaka, Chittagong and Narayanganj are the business major hubs for the business community and the ICT would boost business by establishing easier connection among these three places" he said.
He, however, suggested introducing specialized vessels and custom services at the ICT to make it more effective. He thinks the ICT needs at least 30 specialized vessels with 140TEUs to 160TEUs capacity to meet the present demand.