Port and Shipping: Trial use of lighter jetty begins

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Port and Shipping

Trial use of lighter jetty begins

Dwaipayan Barua Fri Jul 9, 2021

Scrap metal imported by KSRM being unloaded from a lighter at one of the four dedicated jetties constructed at Sadarghat area by Chittagong Port Authority. The photo was taken yesterday. Photo: Rajib Raihan

Around eight years past being constructed by the Chittagong Port Authority (CPA), one of the four lighter jetties started undergoing trial operations yesterday.

Kabir Steel Re-Rolling Mills (KSRM), one of the country’s leading steel manufacturers that attained a lease in May 2018 to use the jetty for unloading imported scrap, began unloading goods there in the afternoon.

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KSRM yesterday unloaded imported scrap from lighter MV Jahan Moni-1.

KSRM Chief Executive Officer Meherul Karim said they started unloading goods at the jetty on a trial basis and would monitor how it performed.

Still, there are some infrastructure works to be completed since the jetty lacks many facilities, including sheds for workers’ stay and toilets, while a back access road was still too narrow for big-sized trucks, he said.

KSRM Deputy Managing Director Sarwar Jahan said the lighter jetty would, somewhat, be helpful for their production supply chain.

Usually, a portion of scrap imported in big-sized vessels is unloaded onto smaller lighters at the outer anchorage of the Chattogram port to reduce their draft and enable them to access berth in the port’s main jetty.

Till date, such imported scrap being taken onto lighters could be unloaded in a few private ghats. Still, their numbers were inadequate in the context to the need, forcing the big-sized vessels to stay put for longer periods.

Karim said apart from that, since the port can allocate only one or two of its jetties for berthing of scrap-carrying mother vessels, the vessels need to wait at the outer anchorage for 10 days to 30 days, causing the businesses to bear a huge amount of demurrage for overstays of ships.

Now they would be able to unload the imported scraps from lighters at the new jetty in less time, which would help in quickly reducing the draft of the mother vessels, he added.

The steel-maker imports 10,000 tonnes to 50,000 tonnes of scrap in one or two vessels every month. KSRM will have to pay Tk 5.10 crore per year to the CPA as rent for the jetty.

The CPA constructed the 400-metre lighter jetty facility, which comprises four jetties, each 100 metres in length, in the port city’s Sadarghat area in 2013 as part of a capital-dredging project in the Karnaphuli river starting in April 2011.

The Tk 229.54 crore project titled “Capital Dredging and Bank Protection with Jetty Facilities in the Karnaphuli River from Sadarghat Jetty to 3rd Karnaphuli Bridge” was initially awarded to the Malaysian Maritime and Dredging Corporation (MMDC).

But the project came to a halt in 2013 when the local agent, Pacific Marine, of the contractor abandoned it, prompting the CPA to cancel its agreement with the Malaysian contractor in August 2014.

The project remained on halt for five years due to legal complications.

Before the Malaysian contractor abandoned the works, about 80 per cent of the project had been complete, including the completion of the 400-metre lighter jetty facility.

In September 2018, the CPA resumed the project changing its name to “Navigability Enhancement Project in Karnaphuli River from Sadarghat to Bakalia Char” and awarded the contract to Bangladesh Navy.

But the work of the project slowed after a thick layer of polythene was traced in the riverbed.

Meanwhile, the CPA, in May 2018, leased out the four jetties for 10 years to four industrial groups — BSRM, Abul Khair, KSRM and Ruby Food, a concern of leading commodity importer BSM Group.

Three of the jetties are for unloading raw materials of steel factories of three groups, while the remaining one is to be used for unloading food grains imported by Ruby Food.

Due to a lack of required navigability, the jetties could not be made operational in the last three years, according to the CPA.

CPA Chief Hydrographer Commander M Arifur Rahman said the four lighter jetties could be made fit for operation through dredging at its portion of the river.

He said three other groups would also start using the remaining three jetties within one or two weeks.

Officials of BSRM Group said they would start unloading scrap at their allocated jetty from next Sunday.

In Bangladesh, around 4.5 million tonnes of scrap are imported by steel makers every year.

BSRM accounts for 30 per cent of the scrap imports while Abul Khair Steel 20 per cent, KSRM 8 to 10 per cent, and GPH Ispat around 10 per cent.

Scrap import has increased tremendously since 2015. The government has started discouraging the import of billets by gradually increasing import duties since 2012 to encourage domestic production.   

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