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Shipbuilding and maritime sector impact of COVID-19

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1,000 FMC Dockyard staff members living, working on-site in Chattogram

The dockyard is also providing its staff with essentials such as food, accommodation, protective clothing, hand sanitiser, and medical checkups

Around 1,000 staff members of FMC Dockyard Ltd in Chattogram are living and working on-site to tackle the threat of the coronavirus pandemic.

The company has arranged to accommodate and feed its staff at the dockyard's dormitories – to minimise their risk of coming in contact with coronavirus patients.

The dockyard is also providing its staff with essentials including protective clothing and hand sanitiser. A medical camp has been set up on-site, and the staff are undergoing body temperature checks twice a day.

The dockyard, which is located in Boalkhali upazila of the port city, is now off limits to all visitors from outside. The shipbuilding company has announced that it will bear all the staff's expenses throughout their stay at the dockyard.

The company launched these special measures on Saturday, which will continue till March 31. The FMC dockyard is spending around Tk2 lakh every day to implement these special measures.

Speaking to The Business Standard, FMC Group's Chairman Mohammad Yasin Chowdhury said, "The prosperity of the company and its staff must be upheld. We had to implement these measures to remain competitive and safeguard our business.

"If we shut down the company, the staff will suffer. So, we opted to continue with daily operations while ensuring the staff's safety. We also granted leaves-of-absence to anyone unwilling to work. All staff will get their salary and allowances during their leave period."

Assistant Engineer Abdullah Al Mahmud, working at the FMC Dockyard Ltd, said, "I used to commute from home to my office every day. Under the special measures our company implemented, I settled into the dockyard dormitory on Saturday."

"We undergo health checkups every day, and work is progressing according to schedule. Anyone feeling ill is receiving the treatment they need," he continued.

Foreman Pavel Barua, of the company's production department, said, "I used to live at the dormitory before the special measures began on Saturday. We are now working while maintaining social distance from each other. Physicians are doing regular checkups.

"The company has distributed masks and hand sanitiser to everyone."

Meanwhile, FMC Dockyard Ltd's Deputy General Manager Uttam Ghosh said, "Around 1,000 staff members – including engineers, welders and technicians – are working to build ships here. We have two dormitories with a capacity of at least 1,000 beds.

"Under normal circumstances, around 500 staff members live at the dormitories, while the rest commute from home. After the coronavirus outbreak began, we made arrangements to accommodate around 1,000 staff members at the dockyard and installed equipment to ensure their safety."

Uttam Ghosh continued, "Apart from supplying protective clothing and hand sanitiser to the staff, we are producing hand sanitiser at the FMC chemical lab. It will be distributed to the staff and their family members."

Praising the initiatives taken by FMC Dockyard Ltd, Dr Sheikh Fazle Rabbi, civil surgeon of Chattogram said, "The dockyard staff must maintain at least 1 metre of space between each other, and frequently use hand sanitiser and masks."

He added, "Anyone suffering from symptoms [of coronavirus] should seek immediate medical attention."

The FMC Dockyard Ltd is located on 80-bighas of land near the bank of the Karnaphuli River. The company manufactures: container ships, tankers, passenger ships, fishing trawlers, dredgers, tug boats, and pontoons.

The dockyard also exports ships when local demand is met.

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12:00 AM, October 06, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:39 AM, October 06, 2020

Local ships recovering from pandemic fallouts

Bangladesh can easily retain $1 billion out of the $7 billion of freight spent to bring import cargoes, says Akij Group’s MD

Sohel Parvez


Akij operates 10 seagoing ships that carry coal, iron ore, clinker, wheat, fertiliser and other mineral cargoes from one international port to another. Photo: Collected

Local oceangoing vessels that carry bulk shipments from one continent to another have recovered from the Covid-19 fallouts as the operators are getting good business thanks to the increased demand from China, according to a leading operator of seagoing ships.

"There is a huge movement of bulk cargo towards China. Because of China, the shipping industry is no longer struggling," said SK Bashir Uddin, managing director of Akij Group, one of the country's biggest business houses with 24 concerns ranging from jute, cement, and steel to food processing and shipping.

Akij operates 10 seagoing ships, which carry coal, iron ore, clinker, wheat, fertiliser and other mineral cargoes from one international port to another.

The Baltic dry index, which tracks rates for ships ferrying dry bulk commodities, jumped to a more than two-month high recently owing to strong iron-ore shipments out of Australia and Brazil, reported Reuters.

Bashir said the Baltic dry index which dropped to an unprecedented low early this year amid the global Covid-19 outbreak, rebounded later alongside the demand for ferrying bulk cargo.

Stimulus packages offered by the Chinese authorities and the public spending are two of the main drivers that pushed up the demand for shipping, he said in an interview over the phone last month.

"Business went down drastically following the outbreak but it is back at full swing now thanks to China," he added.

Since local ships have to comply with international maritime laws to sail on international waters, they become part of the global community, Bashir also said.

Therefore, all local oceangoing vessels enjoy similar treatment in line with ships owned by other countries.

"So when there is a pull, it does not matter who is the owner or from where the ship hails. We enjoy similar status when our ship and a German are in the same class," he said, adding that they carry cargoes from other countries too.

Bashir, also vice chairman of the Bangladesh Oceangoing Ship Owners Association (BOSOA), went on to say that Akij also brings its own cargos through its own ships as this is advantageous in terms of freight charge.

"That is what we are trying to make the regulators understand. We spend nearly $7 billion annually as freight charges to carry inbound cargoes and it is no challenge to retain $1 billion of that amount in the country," said Bashir, citing rising cargo imports.

Bangladesh imported 87 million tonnes of cargo in fiscal 2019-20, up 78 per cent from 48.94 million tonnes five years ago, data from the Chattogram Port Authority shows.

According to the managing director, clinker accounts for a big portion of bulk cargo imported for the cement industry. Besides, wheat and fertiliser are also imported.

"So, Bangladesh ship owners need to grow. There needs to be more ship owners and the government needs to create conducive policies," he said, adding that friendly policies could increase the number of ships.

"It is not a matter at all to increase the number of ships to 1,000."

Citing the necessity to pay for local ships to cross the Suez Canal, he said it is very difficult to make such a transaction from Bangladesh.

The more conducive the regulation, the more local ship owners will grow, said Bashir, adding that the shipping industry creates very high value jobs as well.

"Opportunity is enormous in the industry."

Bangladesh had 85 oceangoing ships six or seven years ago.

The number of oceangoing ships declined to 35 as owners sold off most of their vessels owing to declining freight rates, high operating costs and removal of the value added tax (VAT) exemption benefit for import and manufacture of ships from fiscal 2014-15.

In March 2018, the National Board of Revenue exempted VAT for import of 15-year old ships of 5,000 deadweight tonnage (DWT) capacity.

It increased the age limit to 22 years in June the same year in an effort to accelerate the growth of the shipping industry.

Since then, the number of locally owned ships started increasing as the volume of imports and exports for the growing economy has been on the rise.

The number of seagoing vessels currently stands at 47 with a combined carrying capacity of roughly 2 million tonnes.

"And we carry from all over the world," said Bashir of Akij, which operates one of the country's largest bulk cargo ships with a 76,000-tonne capacity.

He said people who have knowledge should get into the industry.

"It is very feasible for Bangladesh to own 1,000 ships. So new entrepreneurs should come but whoever has the resilience, the perseverance and the ability to learn new things I would strongly encourage them to come," he added. 



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Omar Faruque

23 August, 2021, 10:45 pm

Last modified: 23 August, 2021, 11:03 pm

Journey of a shipbuilder: From exporter to loss-making venture

It has assets of Tk552 crore while debts have climbed up to around Tk2,000 crore


Western Marine Shipyard in Chattogram, which had gained prominence by building 150 ships in 20 years and earning remittance through exports, has almost lost its business to cash crisis.

Its operation remained suspended for one and a half years before it resumed activities about a couple of months ago on a very limited scale.

Western Marine has hardly received any domestic and foreign orders after failing to keep promises on a few international deliveries.

The sorry state of today has little resemblance with its past record of exporting 33 ships to 12 nations, including Germany, Finland, Denmark and the United Arab Emirates, bringing in Tk1,400 crore in remittance.

Wishing not to be named, a director of the company, said Western Marine Shipyard had assets of Tk552 crore at present while its debts had climbed up to around Tk2,000 crore.


Land owner Chaber Ahmed has erected a wall in the middle of the yard of Western Marine Shipyard due to long-standing rent arrears. Photo: Mohammad Minhaj Uddin/TBS

Western Marine has little hope of regaining its strength after breaching its commitment to international buyers, he said.

With the company going deep into a crisis, 19 banks and financial organisations are at risk over loan recovery.

No financial organisations are willing to provide fresh loans to Western Marine. On one hand, the cash crunch has kept it from scaling up its operation while on the other, existing debts have ballooned with unpaid interests over the past two years.

Captain Tareque M Nasrullah, executive director of Western Marine, said, "We are trying to turn around and have already delivered a tugboat to the Chattogram port. Deliveries of two ships to Dubai and other large vassals to local parties have remained halted for the financial crisis."

The Business Standard, however, found the tugboat at the company's yard in a recent visit.

Ataul Hakim Siddique, assistant harbor master of Chittagong Port Authority told " We did not get any tugboat from Western Marine."

Debts and pending orders

Western Marine had easily secured loans as a company of an emerging industry but it did not pay back despite counting profits, said AKM Saiful Islam Chowdhury, an official of Bank Asia.

Deliveries of a cargo vessel of S Alam Group, a passenger vessel of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation, two tugboats of Chattogram and Payra port, and a landing craft of Bangladesh Army have become uncertain following advance payments.

Meanwhile, a Dubai based company, Al Rashid Shipping Limited, filed a lawsuit against Western Marine in June 2020 four months after it was scheduled to deliver two oil tankers.


Photo: Mohammad Minhaj Uddin/TBS

The High Court on 19 August directed the Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate the payment of Tk23 crore to Western Marine by Chattogram port without receiving the delivery of a tugboat.

The ACC was asked to submit a probe report within two months.

The Chattogram Port Authority had inked an agreement to buy a tugboat for Tk37.75 crore and the tugboat was scheduled to be delivered by December 2018.

Western Marine has been working on another order for a tugboat by the Payra port authority. Company officials think the delivery will not be possible within the time agreed upon.

The need of the emerging industry

Executive Director Tareque said the government had launched "Ship Building Industry Development Policy" to provide long-term loans at low interest rates.

"Hopefully the company will be able to recover shortly," he added.

Captain Md Anam Chowdhury, president of Bangladesh Merchant Marine Officers' Association and Western Marine's independent director, said shipbuilding is a tech industry which can thrive on long-term and low interest loans.

Without any government support, this industry cannot survive.


Anam suggested launching a monitoring system to ensure proper utilization of loans.

It takes a long time to make profits and retain a positive business growth after investing in ship building, traders in this industry said.

But shipbuilders took short-term loans at high interest rates from banks and invested in long-term projects. Sometimes it takes around two years to build a ship which should be completed in six months due to unskilled workers and other obstacles, industry insiders said.

Therefore, company owners have to count losses for selling a vessel at a low price or pay a penalty for failing to meet the deadline for delivery, they added.

Not only Western Marine, other ship builders have also been facing similar challenges without a source of financing.

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টিবিএস ডেস্ক

16 September, 2021, 09:30 pm

Last modified: 16 September, 2021, 09:30 pm

জাহাজ নির্মাণের জন্য বাংলাদেশকে আর্থিক সহায়তা দিতে চায় স্পেন

সৌজন্য সাক্ষাতে পারস্পরিক স্বার্থসশ্লিষ্ট বিষয় নিয়ে আলোচনার পাশাপাশি বাংলাদেশ ও স্পেন আন্তর্জাতিক মেরিটাইম অর্গানাইজেশনে (আইএমও) যথাক্রমে ‘সি’ ও ‘বি’ ক্যাটাগরিতে নির্বাচন করার কথা বলেন।



ছবি: টিবিএস

উভয় পক্ষ পারস্পরিক স্বার্থের অন্যান্য বিষয় নিয়েও আলোচনা করেছে।

বাংলাদেশের জাহাজনির্মাণ খাতে আর্থিক সহায়তা দিতে আগ্রহ প্রকাশ করেছে স্পেন। 

এছাড়াও নদ-নদীর দূষণ রোধ ও আবর্জনা পরিস্কার করতে 'রিভার ক্লিনিং ভেসেল' সংগ্রহেও স্পেন বিনিয়োগ করতে চায়।

বৃহস্পতিবার (১৬ সেপ্টেম্বর) সচিবালয়ে নৌপরিবহন প্রতিমন্ত্রী খালিদ মাহমুদ চৌধুরীর সঙ্গে সাক্ষাৎকালে এ আগ্রহের কথা জানান স্পেনের রাষ্ট্রদূত ফ্রান্সিসকো ডি আসিস বেনিতেজ সালাস।

প্রতিমন্ত্রী বলেন, 'জাহাজ নির্মাণ এবং মেরিটাইম সেক্টরে স্পেনের অভিজ্ঞতা রয়েছে। সরকার ১০ হাজার কিলেমিটার নৌপথ খননের লক্ষ্যে ড্রেজার সংগ্রহ করেছে এবং আরো সংগ্রহ করবে।'

সৌজন্য সাক্ষাতে পারস্পরিক স্বার্থসশ্লিষ্ট বিষয় নিয়ে আলোচনার পাশাপাশি বাংলাদেশ ও স্পেন আন্তর্জাতিক মেরিটাইম অর্গানাইজেশনে (আইএমও) যথাক্রমে 'সি' ও 'বি' ক্যাটাগরিতে নির্বাচন করার কথা বলেন।

নির্বাচনের বিষয়ে প্রতিমন্ত্রী ও রাষ্ট্রদূত নিজ নিজ দেশের পক্ষে সমর্থন ব্যক্ত করেন।

অত্যাধুনিক কোপার ও হোপার ড্রেজার সংগ্রহে স্পেনের সহায়তা পাওয়া যাবে বলেও আশা প্রকাশ করেন নৌপরিবহন প্রতিমন্ত্রী।

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Bangladesh begins building international standard cruise vessels

 Ali Asif Shawon

 Published at 02:45 pm September 26th, 2021



Picture shows a model for the cruise ships currently being built by Karnafuly Ship Builders Ltd Courtesy

The shipping ministry hopes to launch the ships by 2023

The government has taken initiatives to build international standard cruise ships -- with the aim to launch them within two years.

Construction works of three cruise ships have begun recently at a dry dock of Karnafuly Ship Builders Ltd, on the bank of Karnaphuli River, in Chittagong.

Each of these vessels will be worth at least Tk77 crore, taking the project cost to a total of Tk231 crore for now, according to officials.

State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury told Dhaka Tribune that they expect to launch these vessels by 2023. “It will not only expand the country's tourism industry but also will play a special role in the economy.”

“Each of these vessels will have all modern entertainment facilities so that a tourist can spend up to 15 days on a cruise comfortably. Moreover, such cruises exist only in Europe, not even in India. These ships will be able to travel to India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.” he added.

Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation Chairman Syed Tajul Islam told Dhaka Tribune that according to the contract signed with Karnafuly Ship Builders Ltd, the vessels will be delivered by June 2023.

"Then the International Association of Classification Societies will verify the vessels’ classification before we launch them," he added.

Explaining how they would like to sign contracts with large corporations to provide top-notch services, Islam said: “We are thinking of signing contracts with major private companies such as Sheraton, Pan Pacific Sonargaon, and InterContinental in order to offer world-class cruises to tourists."

On board facilities

According to officials, each cruise ship will have 150 cabins for the passengers and 50 cabins for the crew. Every cabin will have an attached bathroom.

In addition, there will be 20 presidential suits for the passengers.

Each vessel will have all the modern facilities including a 3D cinema hall, two swimming pools, laundry, bar, cafe, helipad, open space, poolside cafe, parlour, kids corner, and food court.

The helipad will allow on board authorities to airlift any passenger to nearby hospitals if they get sick during a cruise.   

The movie theatres will accommodate 60 people. They can also be used as conference rooms or for family get-togethers by passengers.

Bangladesh’s first-ever luxury cruise ship 'MV Bay One,' which operates on the Cox's Bazar-Saint Martin route, was launched in December last year.

Karnafuly Ship Builders Ltd had imported the ship, built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, from Japan in September 2020.


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First Bangladesh-made ocean-going ship exported to UK

The ship has a 4,130 horsepower engine and can reach speeds of up to 12.5 nautical miles/hour


Photo of the oceangoing high-speed, multipurpose container vessel Dhaka Tribune

Tribune Report

September 13, 2022 3:44 PM

Bangladesh has for the first time exported an oceangoing high-speed, multipurpose container vessel to the United Kingdom (UK).  

Ananda Shipyard and Slipways Ltd handed over the ship to its UK buyer, Enzian Shipping Company Ltd, on Tuesday at an event held at the InterContinental in Dhaka.

The 364 feet long, 54 feet wide and 27 feet deep ship has a 4,130 horsepower engine and can reach speeds of up to 12.5 nautical miles/hour.

The ship, with a capacity of 6,100 deadweight tonnage, was built entirely in Narayanganj's Meghnaghat.

Talking with Dhaka Tribune, Dr Tariqul Islam, executive director of Ananda Group, said: “In 2008 we first exported a ship to Denmark and now we have exported to the UK. It is also the first time that the UK has imported a ship from Bangladesh.”  

“This vessel can transport any kind of dangerous cargo, except nuclear waste, and it is an ice class vessel that can move smoothly, breaking four feet of ice on the ocean. This ship also can run without a captain’s assistance in its engine room for up to 16 hours,”  he added.

State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury, who attended the handover ceremony as chief guest, said: "Bangladesh today has completed the export of a modern multipurpose container ship to the UK. This is a proud day for us all."

“Under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the current government attaches great importance to the shipbuilding industry. Therefore, it has become easy to export ships for the private companies of Bangladesh. This sector will play a big role in the economy of Bangladesh soon,” the state minister added.

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Foisal Ahmed

07 May, 2023, 10:55 am

Last modified: 07 May, 2023, 11:29 am

Shipbuilders back to life with Tk5,000cr orders



The country's shipbuilding industry is witnessing a significant boost as three of its largest companies have secured orders to build around two dozen vessels worth approximately Tk5,000 crore. 

This surge in orders comes after a year of increased inquiries by buyers, which has expanded the industry's potential for acquiring additional orders.

Dr Abdullahel Bari, President of the Association of Export-Oriented Shipbuilding Industries of Bangladesh (AEOSIB), told The Business Standard (TBS), "The shipbuilding sector is emerging as a shining star in the country's economy, with three major companies currently holding combined orders worth Tk5,000 crore." 

Bari, who is also the owner of Ananda Shipyard, said, "We [Ananda] also received a substantial number of inquiries last year, indicating a higher likelihood of obtaining more orders. We have received orders totalling about Tk700 crore."

Khulna Shipyard, one of the country's leading shipbuilders, has secured orders valued at around Tk2,300 crore, while Karnaphuli Shipyard has orders worth nearly Tk2,000 crore.

Captain Al Amin Chowdhury, general manager (Design and Planning) of Khulna Shipyard, told TBS, "We got work orders to build a 70-meter cruise ship, two tugboats for Payra Port, four 24-inch dredgers for the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA), five 60-meter patrol craft, three landing craft tanks for the Navy, three diving vessels, a modern floating crane with a 70-tonne capacity for the Coast Guard, two diving boats for the Coast Guard, two ferries, and a survey boat."

"We are also working on several other smaller orders. These vessels will be delivered to buyers at different times by June 2024," Chowdhury added.

Engineer Abdur Rashid, managing director of Karnafuly Ship Builders Limited (KSBL), said that the firm is currently working on several orders, including building a mother vessel with a helipad, four coastal ships, three cruise ships, a few survey vessels, and other smaller vessels.

Rashid said all these orders were secured last year, requiring to be delivered by 2024.

Dr Bari, chairman of Ananda Shipyard, said his company is building two 24-inch dredgers for the BIWTA, two cargo ships with a capacity of 1,200 tonnes each, a multipurpose 5.5m container ship for India, and five medium and small-sized ships, along with some repair works. 

He said these orders are scheduled for delivery next year.

While the shipbuilding industry faced a challenging year in 2020 and 2021 due to reduced orders and payment difficulties, it managed to rebound in 2022.

Dr Bari said that immediately after the pandemic in 2021, the industry encountered decreased orders and halted ongoing projects due to payment failures. However, the situation improved significantly the following year, with a substantial influx of orders.

Although the Russia-Ukraine war posed a crisis in late 2022, it lasted only a few months, and the industry is currently not facing major issues, he noted.

Regarding the industry's potential, Bari said, "Bangladeshi shipbuilders have established a reputation for producing high-quality vessels at competitive prices and this has created a strong demand for their products abroad, leading to increased buyer interest and positive industry trends."

Regarding the dollar crisis and its impact on the shipbuilding industry, Al Amin Chowdhury of Khulna Shipyard said the crisis regarding opening Letters of Credit (LCs) only lasted for a few months last year. Fortunately, the government promptly resolved the issue, and currently there are no problems in this regard.

Expressing similar sentiments, Engineer Rashid of Karnafuly Ship Builders, said they are currently not encountering any obstacles in opening LCs for importing materials and machinery required for shipbuilding.

However, the situation differs for Ananda Shipyard. Its Chairman Dr Bari claimed that his company continues to face hurdles in opening import LCs. 

"I need to procure certain necessary equipment, but due to the dollar crisis, we are unable to proceed with the imports," he added.

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