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Two more shipping lines will start direct services to Europe from Chittagong next month, facilitating access to half of Bangladesh’s export markets.
UK-based liner Allseas Global Logistics will launch its service mid-May, connecting Liverpool, Rotterdam and Chittagong ports with three ships.
And Switzerland-based maritime logistics service provider Commodity Supplies will launch a service, with three chartered vessels, connecting Rotterdam, Barcelona and Chittagong in late May.
The ships will leave Chittagong every 10 to 15 days and reach Europe in 22 to 24 days. Sending boxes from Chittagong to Europe via transhipment ports takes about 40 days currently, due to congestion and berthing delays.
In the absence of direct services and a deep seaport, Bangladeshi cargo is ferried to regional transhipment ports in Colombo, Singapore and Port Klang and Tanjung Pelepas, from where they are shipped to Europe, America, and other destinations by mother vessels.
Capt Sayed Sohel Hasnat, chairman of Phoenix Shipping, Allseas’ local agent, said he would launch the Allseas service with vessels MV AMO, BBC Finland and MV San Alfonso, with capacity of between 1,500 and 1,800 teu.
“This will be the first direct service to Rotterdam and meet a long-held demand of Bangladeshi exporters,” he said, adding: “The plan is to add two more vessels on this route, based on demand.”
Mohammad Rashed, chairman of Reliance Shipping, local agent of Commodity Supplies, said he would deploy the MV Spica, MV Andromeda J and MV Music on the Chittagong-Europe service.
Mr Rashed’s company launched the first direct Europe service to Italy from Chittagong in February, creating hope among exporters that their containers would not get stuck in transhipment ports for weeks.
“Bangladesh’s apparel industry will benefit from these direct services,” said Syed Nazrul Islam, first VP of the Bangladesh Garment Manufactures and Exporters Association. He said a good number of vessels would need to sail from Chittagong to Europe every week to make the venture successful.