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Giant Chinese dredger in work to dredge Bangladesh’s major seaport channel despite pandemic

Despite COVID-19, a Chinese hopper dredger is working hard to dredge the port channel at Mongla, a major seaport in Bangladesh’s southern Khulna industrial region, as part of a project under a deal between the Mongla port authority and China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC).

The hopper dredger Xin Zi Lang 5 started its work after arriving at the port on Wednesday. Equipped with advanced automation equipment, the hopper dredger features a novel bottom dumping design, which allows all-weather operation under various complex working conditions with high precision positioning, according to the the Chinese project contractor.

The dredging mission at the Mongla port channel is also the hopper dredger’s debut after the vessel was built in February.

It is one of the three giant Chinese dredgers that the CCECC has so far mobilized for the Mongla port channel dredging project. The others are two of the world’s largest cutter suction dredgers, Xin Hai Teng and Xin Hai Xu, arriving in the initial stage of the project.

Apart from the worsened pandemic situation in Bangladesh, the Chinese project contractor CCECC said it has waded through tremendous challenges to deploy the world’s two largest self-navigated cutter suction dredgers, each boasting a dredging capacity of 6,500 cubic meters per hour and a dredging distance of over 20 km.

Mongla, one of the major seaports at the Bengal delta, is located some 48 km from the city of Khulna and lies on the bank of the River Pashur.

Due to increasing congestion in Bangladesh’s largest Chattogram seaport, many international shipping firms have turned to Mongla as an alternative.

Also, Mongla is set to emerge as an attractive gateway because of the construction of the country’s largest Padma Bridge and Padma Rail Link. The two major projects in Bangladesh is expected to connect the port to the national capital Dhaka.

But the port is currently underutilized due to the navigability problem of its key Pashur channel.

The situation prompted the deal between the Mongla port authority and the CCECC. They in December last year signed a deal aimed at enabling the inner bar of the Mongla port channel to allow the anchoring of container ships with 10 m draft.

Rear Admiral M Shahjahan, chairman of the Mongla port authority, and Yang Zhijun, the CCECC representative signed the deal.

The 7.54 billion taka project started in March 2021 and is expected to finish in July 2022.

Officials said dredging of the inner bar area of the Mongla port channel is one of the largest dredging projects in Bangladesh.

The main part of the work under the contract is the dredging of a 24 km long channel with a total dredging volume of over 20 million cubic meters.

Bangladeshi State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury, who attended the signing ceremony held virtually, said completion of the dredging of the port channel’s inner bar area will shorten the turnaround time of arriving ships and cutting the cost of transporting goods.

In addition, he said that more and larger vessels will be able to come, contributing to the economic development in the country’s southwestern region.

With the dredging work completed in 2022, the CCECC said the navigability of the port channel will be vastly improved and the port’s handling capacity will be greatly enhanced, facilitating Bangladesh’s post-pandemic economic recovery and regional economic development.

Earlier in December last year, the Chinese company completed dredging the outer bar area of the Mongla port channel to enable it to serve ships with 10 m draft. (1 U.S. dollar equals about 86 taka)
Source: Xinhua

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