Bangladesh government plans to dredge Mongla port to accommodate bigger ships

The Bangladesh government has approved a USD94 million dredging project at the Port of Mongla to create a water depth of up to 10 m.

The country’s second-largest seaport will see dredging at the inner bar of the port, which will enable large vessels to berth at the jetties. The current water depth can only accommodate vessels with a draft of up to 7.5 m, with larger vessels unable to enter the river port.

Work began in January and is expected to be completed in June.

The inner bar project was approved by the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC), the highest decision-making body led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, and involves the dredging of 21.60 million m3 of sediment.

Of the total volume, 15.77 million m3 will be removed by using a cutter suction dredger, while a trailing suction hopper dredger will cut 5.83 million m3.

Part of the project also includes the creation of a 0.25 million m3 dike.

Officials said once the dredging is complete, the port will have the same depth as Chittagong, the country’s largest seaport, and will be able to take a significant load of the country’s growing import-export activities, said to cost billions of dollars.

A similar government-funded dredging project valued at USD83 million is ongoing at the outer bar of the port, also taking the water depth to 10 m.

Shipping secretary Abdus Samad told DPC that Mongla port has the capacity to handle both containerised and bulk goods. “But the main disadvantage of the port is low water draft in the main channel, which forces large vessels to anchor very far from the jetties,” he said. “Now we’re dredging both the outer and inner bar simultaneously to remove the depth constraint.”

According to official data, the port has a handling capacity of 125,000 TEU and 13 million tonnes of bulk cargo per year. However, a significant amount of the port’s capacity remains underutilised, mainly due to the low water draft.

In fiscal year 2018-19, the port handled 57,732 TEU and 11.31 million metric tonnes of bulk cargoes.

A senior Mongla port official said it will soon start handling transshipment cargo from India and in the near future from Bhutan and Nepal.

He also pointed out that in September 2019, a mobile harbour crane started operating at the port, and work is under way for a truck terminal that will be able to accommodate about 1,000 trucks.

The port’s connectivity with capital Dhaka by the Padma Bridge, which is currently under construction, and train lines, will significantly enhance the Port of Mongla’s business.