DHAKA / KOLKATA : Bangladesh's MV Harbour-1 will sail from Chittagong Port on its maiden voyage to Krishnapatnam Port in India today as Coastal Shipping services between the two countries were launched.
The vessel will operate between the East Coastal Indian Ports in Kolkata, Haldia, Paradip, Vishakhapatnam, Kakinada, Krishnapatnam and Chennai, and Bangladeshi Ports in Chittagong, Narayanganj, Ashuganj, Paira, Khulna, Mongla and Pangaon terminal.
The vessel is expected to reach the Indian port on March 22, return to Chittagong Port on March 28 and then reach Pangaon terminal on March 30, the sources said.
Shipping Minister Mr Shajahan Khan launched the services under the Coastal Shipping agreement between Bangladesh and India, at a ceremony at the New Mooring Container Terminal of Chittagong Port.
MV Harbour-1 owned by Neepa Paribahan and built by Western Marine Shipyard is the first Bangladeshi Container vessel to receive permission from the shipping departments of both the countries.
The Coastal Shipping agreement was signed during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bangladesh visit in 2015 and it is being implemented within a year, the Minister said.
Road communication between Chittagong and Agartala would be established by constructing a bridge over the Feni river in the border area, he said. The goods transported from the Indian ports to Chittagong could be delivered to the north-eastern region of India through roads, he said.
Around 25,000 TEUs of containers were transported between the two countries in 2013, while the figure rose to 40,000 TEUs in 2014 and 62,000 TEUs in 2015, according to the Chittagong Port Authority.
Containers from the Indian Ports are now being transported to Bangladesh via Colombo or Singapore, which takes 12 to 15 days, said Mr. Sirajur Rahman, Chief Executive of Neepa Paribahan. “With the direct service, time for such transport would come down to 2-5 days.”