Direct container shipment
Ayub Ali from Ctg: Experimental direct container shipping on the Chittagong-Italy route began late last year. If the voyage is successful, a vessel carrying export goods left Chittagong seaport for Italy earlier this year. Through this, shipping with direct goods started on Chittagong-Italy route.
A relatively small ship is scheduled to sail directly to Italy in early March with some of the last ship’s leftover containers.
Traders are reducing the cost of transporting goods directly on the Chittagong-Italy route. A lot of time is also saved. At one time it took 30 to 40 days for the goods to reach Europe but now the goods are going to reach within 20 days. All in all, various shipping lines seem to be interested in new shipping on this route. Many countries, including the Netherlands and Portugal, have shown interest in direct shipments. They have already called for a meeting with the port authorities, traders and stakeholders.
A company called ‘Sea Consortium Bangladesh Limited’ has taken the initiative to operate container cargo
ships on the latest Chittagong-Italy route. Although the exact date has not been announced, their service is likely to be launched in March.
Traders and port users have welcomed the new shipping initiative on this route. They called it good news for the country’s economy. Traders are also hopeful that this will create a new market for the country’s clothing in the European market.
It is known that the transportation of goods in containers started in 1986. From then on, ships carrying containers from Chittagong port would first go to ports in Singapore, Colombo and Malaysia. There, the container used to go to different countries of Europe by mother vessel. Transshipment at these ports is often complicated by the lockdown caused by coronavirus infection.
In the middle of last year, there was a terrible mess in those ports. Although there was no congestion in Chittagong port, European buyers were not able to get the goods on time due to that reason. Since then, there have been calls from various quarters, including traders, to transport containers directly from the port of Chittagong to Europe. But it was not easy at all. This is because there are many complications in direct ship operation while maintaining balance between export and import.
However, despite the complications, at one stage the Chittagong-Italy route began its experimental journey. On December 23 last year, a ship named ‘Cap Flores’ set sail on an experimental route with an empty container. As the voyage was successful, it was decided to transport the goods directly on the ship on this route. Then, on January 17, the ship ‘Tsonga Cheetah’ left the port of Ravenna, Italy with 945 TEUS (20 feet long unit) empty container and 8 TEUs garments raw materials for Chittagong port.The ship reached Chittagong port on 5 February.
Two days later, on 8 February, the Tsonga Cheetah with 952 TEUS containers left Chittagong port for Italy. The cheetah then reached its destination on 28 February.
Rear Admiral M Shahjahan, Chairman, Chittagong Port, Mahbubul Alam, President, Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Charles Stuart Whiteley, Ambassador of the European Union, Enrico Nunziatao, Ambassador of Italy and BGME, President were present at the inauguration.
Meanwhile, port sources said that the Tsonga Cheetah ship dropped 31 TEUS containers due to untimely loading of goods. The ship ‘AST Malta’ is coming to Chittagong port to take these abandoned containers and 98 more new TEUs container goods to Italy. The ship is scheduled to reach Chittagong port on March 2. The ship will then go directly to Italy with 128 TEUs container goods directly. Although the ship regularly operates on the China-Italy route.
Again, Sea Consortium Bangladesh Limited has taken initiative to launch ship service on Chittagong-Europe route. Chittagong Port Authority and traders have welcomed the initiative. The company is currently exploring the possibility of traveling on this route. If all goes well, their journey could begin in March.
Michael Rudriguez, senior general manager of the C consortium told: We are exploring the possibility of direct shipping on the Chittagong-Europe route. In this case, the balance of import-export products is being checked. Not only sound education but his alertness and dedication too are most required. The port authorities are supporting us in launching the ship. If all goes well, the date of departure will be officially announced.
Rakibul Alam Chowdhury, vice-president of BGMEA, told that a container ship left for Italy on February 8. Going to Europe directly by container reduces cost on the one hand and saves time on the other. Due to this other country of the world will lag behind Bangladesh. Bangladesh will start a new field of trade in Europe as the goods can be delivered on time.
Buyers from Europe have already started contacting us. Overall, traders are quite optimistic. We will request the authorities to take initiative to operate more ships on this route.
Mahbubul Alam, president of the Port Users Forum and Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the new initiative to operate ships on the Chittagong-Europe route is good news.
This is very good news for traders. To get rid of the corona clutter, we demanded direct container transport from Chittagong to Europe. Our dream has come true. Tsonga Cheetah, a private company in Italy, carried the container by ship. This is the expectation of the traders to increase the number of shipping on this route by cutting the complexity.
Chittagong Port Secretary Omar Farooq told that various companies have been in touch with us since the start of direct container shipping from Chittagong to Italy. We support them. In the meantime, the Netherlands and Portugal have expressed interest in meeting with us. He also asked the businessmen to be present at their meeting. We will meet with them soon.
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