Five big global marine and inland terminal operators are queuing up for the contract to build Bangladesh's maiden specialised maritime terminal in Chittagong.

A local company is also an aspirant for the terminal project to be implemented on public-private partnership (PPP) model at Laldiar Char, situated adjacent to the Karnaphuli river estuary. The Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) owns the Char.

The international port operators submitted their request for qualifications (RfQ) in an open bidding that was closed Sunday. The CPA, which lacks specialised terminal to handle bulk cargoes, invited RfQs sometime in June this year.

Among the operators who submitted their request for qualifications is Dubai-based DP World which has port-and logistics-related business in 40 countries.

Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Limited (APSEZ), India's largest private multiport operator, also submitted RfQ.

Bolloré, a French transportation company headquartered in Puteaux, on the western outskirts of Paris, is another aspirant for the job.

Beijing-based China Harbour and Engineering Co Ltd (CHEC), an engineering contractor and a subsidiary of China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) which built the New Mooring Container Terminal, just few kilometres from the Laldiar Char, some eight to nine years back, is also vying for the contract.

Another global port giant in the race is Singapore-based Global port services. And local company Power Pac Limited also showed their interest.

People familiar with the development at the PPP office told the FE that they just opened the RfQs on the last day on Sunday. Request for proposals will now be sought from five of the six operators.

"We'll evaluate the RfQs shortly and seek five participants out of the six companies," said Md Abul Bashar, a director (investment promotion) at the PPP office in Dhaka.

The terminal is expected to be built in an around two-and-a-half-kilometre area on the north bank of the Karnaphuli river. Chittagong International Airport is near the designated area.

The Chittagong Port, operated by the CPA, is the main seaport of Bangladesh that handles more than 92 per cent of the total seaborne trade of the country in bulk and containerised forms.

There has been a significant and sustained increase in cargo handling at the Chittagong Port, with the current growth averaging more than 10 per cent annually.

A key constraint facing Chittagong Port is lack of any specialist terminal to handle bulk cargos.

Currently, the bulk cargos are being handled at the existing container terminals.

However, this is not seen as a viable long-term solution. The lack of dedicated equipment for bulk cargo, and strong growth of container and bulk cargo volumes are having an adverse impact on ships' waiting time and the overall performance of the port.

PPP officials said that to cope with such increase in bulk-cargo volumes and improve upon port operation, the government has prioritised the establishment of a dedicated bulk-cargo-handling facility.

"For this purpose, the government has primarily selected Laldiar Char as a strategically appropriate location for developing a bulk-cargo-handling terminal," the office said.

The proposed site is on the right bank of Chittagong Port between Khal no 14 and 15. The site proposed is nearer to sea mouth and located downstream of the Gupta bend.

The project profile says the main objective is to set up a dedicated terminal with specialist equipment to handle bulk cargo. "Enhancing capacity at Chittagong Port to deal with additional cargo volumes and meet future demand are also aimed at," it says.

The profile also says the authorities also want to enhance operational performance at Chittagong Port and reduce ship-waiting time.

The terms of reference include design, construct, operation and maintenance of Laldiar Bulk Cargo Terminal.
Source: The Financial Express