Direct shipping gets momentum
Author / Source : RAFIQ HASAN
DHAKA, SEPT 24 :The first container vessel under China- Bangla direct shipping line reached Chittagong and berthed at Newmooring Container Terminal (NCT) on Saturday morning.
The ship carrying 1055 TEUs of container came a day ahead of the schedule. The ship was scheduled to reach Sunday, according to sources in the Pacific International Line PIL, the Singapore-based operator of the ship. Cchairman of Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) Commodore M Anwarul Islam is likely to visit the ship Hansa Centurion and formally welcome the new service on Sunday.
PIL introduced the direct container shipping line between Shanghai, the commercial capital of China, and Chittagong from this month.
“We are very happy that the ship reached ahead of schedule reflecting success of the new service,” said Rafiqul islam, country representative of PIL, over telephone on Saturday night.
In its return trip, the ship is scheduled to leave Chittagong on Tuesday. “We already got booking of 500 TEUs for returning trip,” Rafiqul Islam said. The ship would go back to China through Singapore and Thailand, he informed this correspondent.
As many as five container ships of PIL will ply on the route regularly.
The direct container service has been gaining popularity among the ship operators as more shipping lines are coming to introduce vessels on the route.
After introducing the direct route by PIL, world’s number one container shipping operator Maersk Shipping Line came up with four vessels on the route.
The company started plying vessels from September 11 between Shanghai and Chittagong. The first trip of Maersk got 300 TEUs of containers. They are going to start their service in full swing next month, the source said.
Maersk operates around 600 containers ship all over the world, according to the company officials.
Observing business potential on the route, another China based shipping line Cosco has also expressed desire to introduce container vessel on the route, according to the shipping circle. A number of other shipping lines also plan introducing container service between China and Bangladesh.
The business community are welcoming this direct container shipping line and demanded more container vessels to be introduced on the route as they would be immensely benefited by the line saving at least seven days time while importing raw materials from China.
“It is a very positive move and we welcome the Sino-Bangla direct shipping line,” said Nasiruddin Chowdhury, acting president of Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporter Association (BGMEA).
Demanding more vessels on the route, Nasir observed that one or two vessels are not enough. “We need more vessels as thousand of containers move on the route. At least 7-8 shipping lines should come up on this vibrant route”.
According to him, 10-20 vessels can operate regularly on this route as most of the fabrics used by apparel makers come from China. During the service, vessels from China will arrive Chittagong port each Sunday and leave for China each Wednesday, according to PIL schedule.
Before such a direct link, Bangladesh-bound containers from China come via Malaysia, Singapore or Sri Lanka. China-bound export containers from Bangladesh also follow the same route. As a result, it took around 25-30 days to reach imported goods from China to Bangladesh. Bangladesh-bound containers sometime left at Singapore or other ports for weeks lingering the export-import business.
The direct establishment of shipping line, the shipping circle says, will also reduce at least $120 in freight cost per container for Bangladesh.
Bangladesh imports around $7 billion worth of goods annually from China. The major imports from China include electronics, fabrics, non-cotton yarn and accessories, machinery, chemicals, intermediary raw-material, fertilizers, food grains and fruits.
On the other hand, China bought $400 million worth of goods from Bangladesh last year.
The exported items from Bangladesh were mainly raw jute, apparel and leather.
A government high official at the Ministry of Shipping said under the existing agreement and protocol between the two friendly nations, any company can establish such link and operate vessels without any fresh approval from the government side.