The news comes as a breath of fresh air that the second largest seaport of Bangladesh, the Mongla Port, has been seeing a lot of activity recently, with ships from foreign countries coming at regular intervals. A special report in our business section says that the port has made a strong comeback, making it a major gateway for Bangladesh's overseas trade once again. No doubt, this would boost our export trade, thereby the economy as a whole. Senior officials are of the opinion that the port will see even more activities once the Padma Bridge becomes fully functional.
That, however, has not been the case. This may be a little tricky to see at first glance, as export data does seem to indicate otherwise. For example, export earnings in July soared 26.54 percent to USD 3.2 billion led by garment, whose shipments rose 17.08 percent year-on-year to USD 2.47 billion in the month starting FY17-18, marking a strong rebound from FY16-17 that concluded in June, according to data from the Export Promotion Bureau. Given such positive developments, the government doesn't really have to do a thousand things to better balance our trade accounts. Rather, it needs to formulate simple and coherent strategies to support exports in the long run.
It is encouraging to note that the port has registered 17 percent annual average growth in ship-handling since 2012, while the volume of cargo-handling has grown by 19 percent over the past decade. Our report says that arrivals of ships have increased at Mongla Port as the economic growth has increased domestic demand. The credit for the steady growth in business goes to the completion of dredging at the outer bar of a nearly 140-kilometre channel. This resulted in the improved navigability of vessels that required a higher draft.
In a bid to keep the port running in full steam, the Mongla Port Authority is in the process of buying a good number of equipment and machineries to handle cargoes under a Tk-433-crore project. Furthermore, the port authority is set to purchase six vessels to handle ocean-going ships under another project involving Tk 767 crore.
We are told that at the moment, the port has 25 berthing facilities, including five jetties. But experts say that it needs to increase the draft at the jetty to enable the entry of vessels of more than seven-metres of draft. Understandably, this problem is likely to be solved with the dredging at the inner bar of the Pashur channel. Once done, it will allow ships with more than nine meters’ draft to use the jetty.
We believe that the full potential of the Mongla Port is yet to be exploited. With all the development projects in hand completed within the near future, the port, we hope, will be able to get more business and contribute to our economic progress.