Published at: The Financial Express, February 08, 2019
The country’s first and the largest private dockyard with a capacity of 0.1 million DWT (deadweight tonnage) got licence for shipbuilding and repairing from Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA) on Thursday.
BEZA awarded the final licence to Karnaphuli Dry-Dock Special Economic Zone (SEZ), a concern of Karnaphuli Ship Builders, at a programme in a city hotel with its Chairman Paban Chowdhury in the chair.
It is the eighth economic zone (EZ) of the proposed 100 EZs, and the first SEZ dedicated to shipbuilding and maintenance. Other seven are multi-sectoral EZs.
The area of Karnaphuli Dry-Dock SEZ is 20 acres, while its expected primary employment is 3,000. The total investment of the SEZ is US$ 150 million with $105 million loan from World Bank.
Large ships can be repaired in the dry-dock after construction of its jetty, expected to be completed by next month (March). The authority expects to earn $120 million from the SEZ.
In his speech, Karnaphuli Dry-Dock SEZ Managing Director Engineer M A Rashid said about 3,000 ships operate to and from Chittagong Port annually.
At present there is only one dry-dock in Chittagong, run by Bangladesh Navy. It has a capacity of 20,000 DWT, which is insufficient to provide necessary services to the ships. Singapore operates its ports with 50 dry-docks, he further said.
Besides, the developed countries are gradually closing their dockyards due to high production cost. The labour cost of a Tk 1.0-billion ship in those countries is about Tk 350 million. But in Bangladesh the labour cost for the same will come down to Tk 15-20 million, he added.
A release of BEZA said more than 2,500 ships operate through Chittagong Port a year along with 30 ships of Bangladesh Shipping Corporation and private owners. Besides, there are many ships of Bangladeshi owners, registered in other countries.
It is mandatory to repair these ships after every two-three years. But, these ships cannot do it due to capacity constraints of Chittagong Dry Dock Limited. So, the owners of small ships are being bound to repair their ships outside the country.
The BEZA chairman in his speech said investment in the SEZs will be very much secured. The authority has to be ready to face the challenges of meeting the expectations of the investors as well as to provide quality utility service to the SEZs.
Paban Chowdhury also said BEZA was very cautious in giving licence to a SEZ only for shipbuilding and maintenance, as private EZ is a new concept and shipbuilding is an exclusive type of business.
Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) Chairman Commodore Md Mozammel Haque said there is a shortage of qualified manpower in shipbuilding sector despite its huge potentials.
Many companies of the sector have collapsed due to lack of efficient management. Only infrastructure is not sufficient, he added.
National Skills Development Authority Executive Chairman Faruque Hossain said about 23 ministries have respective training programmes to develop skilled human resources in the country. But conducting these programmes in a sporadic way will not be that much effective.
The authority will work as a coordinator in this regard. It will implement the programmes, develop necessary curriculum, provide certification, and monitor quality, he added.