Port of Chittagong

Bangladesh - চট্টগ্রাম বন্দর

চট্টগ্রাম বন্দর বাংলাদেশ চট্টগ্রাম বন্দর (Bengali) -चिटागांग पोर्ट ( چٹگانگ بندرگاہ (チッタゴン港 차포구 Chittagong port of Chattoram

Established in 1887, the Port of Chittagong stands as Bangladesh’s principal maritime gateway. Over its rich history, marked by its evolution since the 4th century BC, this port has played a pivotal role in the region’s trade landscape. Formerly known as ‘SHETGANG’ and ‘PORTE GRANDE’ during different historical periods, Chittagong Port emerged under British law in 1887, nestled in the estuary of the Karnaphuli River.

Position and Recognition of Port of Chittagong

Chittagong Port has earned its place on the global maritime map, ranking 98th in the 100 container port list and climbing to the 64th busiest container port globally in 2018. The strategic placement on the right bank of the Karnaphuli River, approximately 9 nautical miles from the Bay of Bengal’s shoreline, contributes to its prominence. The port’s recognition extends beyond its physical attributes, as it holds a regular membership in the Japan-based International Ports and Harbours (IAPH).

With six general cargo berths, eleven container berths, two dry dock jetties, and five river moorings, Chittagong Port boasts robust infrastructure. The port’s geographical advantage facilitates cost-effective foreign trade with South Asian and other Asian countries. The availability of ample and low-cost labor adds to its allure. Functioning as the heart of Bangladesh’s economy, the port handles 92% of the country’s international trade and generates about 35% of the annual revenue through import tax, duties, and VAT.

The Dhaka-Chattogram corridor, comprising rail, road, and river transportation, houses 80% of export-import industries and five out of ten Export Processing Zones (EPZs). This corridor, along with the port, contributes about 30% to the country’s GDP. Chittagong Port serves as the gateway for 100% of the country’s imported Petroleum Oil and Lubricant (POL) and facilitates the export of 100% finished products and the import of 80% of raw materials and accessories.

Facilities and Operations at Chittagong Port

Chittagong Port’s operational capabilities include a container holding capacity of 3500 TEUs, a yard area spanning 55,000 sq. m., and a Container Freight Station (CFS) covering 5815 sq. m. The port features a weighbridge, a mobile harbor crane, straddle carriers, forklifts, tractor trailers, cargo cranes, and a trailing suction hopper dredger (MV KHANAK) to maintain navigability. The fleet of tugs, with a maximum bollard pull of 60 tons, enhances operational efficiency.

Performance and Global Standing of Chittagong Port

Despite challenges, Chittagong Port has consistently improved its performance, securing the 64th position in the Lloyd’s list of 100 container ports globally. The port accommodates vessels with draughts ranging from 8.50 m to 9.20 m, and the maximum permissible length overall (LOA) of a vessel is 190 meters. Rear Admiral Mohammad Sohail, Chairman of the port, emphasizes its role in strengthening India-Bangladesh bilateral ties, fostering mutual benefits.

Diplomacy and Regional Collaboration

Chittagong Port has emerged as a key player in regional diplomacy. In a recent meeting between Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and India’s Minister of External Affairs, S. Jaishankar, the offer of Chittagong Port to India was extended. This move aligns with Bangladesh’s strategy of balancing partnerships with neighboring giants, as demonstrated in a similar offer to China in 2019. The port’s significance in the Bay of Bengal’s geopolitics positions it as a vital asset for regional connectivity.

Strategic Significance for India’s Northeast

Chittagong Port serves as a crucial sea-link for India’s landlocked Northeast, offering a more accessible route compared to the Kolkata Port. Proper multimodal connectivity and geographical proximity make it an economical choice for developing the region, aligning with India’s Act East and Neighbourhood First Policy. The Coastal Shipping Agreement between Bangladesh and India further enhances connectivity, reducing delivery times and saving costs.

Beyond regional ties, Chittagong Port holds strategic importance for China as one of its gateways into the Indian Ocean. Reports of Chinese investments have sparked discussions about China’s intentions in the Indian Ocean Region. However, Chinese scholars emphasize equal terms and reciprocal agreements for joint economic development, refuting claims of a military agenda. Bangladesh, in turn, has welcomed Chinese investments, aiming to develop the port into a regional commercial hub.

The Port of Chittagong stands as Bangladesh’s maritime jewel, connecting the country to the global trade network. Its historical significance, economic impact, and strategic importance in regional diplomacy make it a dynamic player in the evolving geopolitical landscape of the Bay of Bengal. As it navigates regional collaborations with India and China, Chittagong Port continues to be a key driver of Bangladesh’s economic growth and diplomatic endeavors.

The port is managed by the Chittagong Ports Authority.


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