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Due to severe bottlenecks in regional transhipment ports, MSC is launching a direct service from South China to Chittagong.
The new Bengal Service aims to bring relief to Bangladeshi importers from the congestion at the transhipment hubs of Singapore and Colombo.
The weekly service will start on 27 April with the sailing of the MSC Kymea on a port rotation of: Hong Kong-Yantian-Shekou-Singapore-Tanjung Pelepas-Chittagong-Singapore-Tanjung Pelepas-Hong Kong.
MSC will initially run the service with one vessel a week, but has plans to increase the number.
The carrier said: “The service will provide customers with a direct link between South China and Chittagong, and will also enable connections for Bangladesh imports and exports via our transhipment hubs in Singapore and Tanjung Pelepas.”
Currently, three shipping lines have China-Bangladesh direct services – Maersk and joint services from Sinokor and HMM and SITC and CMA.
Bangladesh has no deepsea port, so cargo is ferried to and from local ports and regional transhipment hubs by feeder vessels.
Mohammad Ajmir Hossain Chowdhury, deputy general manager at MSC Bangladesh, said the Bengal Service would call at Singapore and Tanjung Pelepas ports, but would not unload Chittagong-bound containers, so it would not by hit by transhipment-related delays.
Boxes that come through transhipment hubs in South-east Asia face delays of 10-15 days, he said, while in Colombo, containers have to wait 20-25 days to board Chittagong-bound feeder vessels.
Currently, feeder vessels face 3-4 days’ wait in Colombo to get a berth and often need to berth twice for unloading and loading of containers as the inter-terminal movement of containers is slow due to the lack of adequate container transport vehicles.
“A direct service between China and Chittagong will bring us relief from delays in getting raw materials,” said Rafayet Russel, a garment factory owner in Narayanganj district.
The new service will take maximum 15 days to reach Chittagong from China, said Mr Chowdhury.
“China is main raw material sourcing point for Bangladesh’s garment and textile sector,” he added, noting that these were time-sensitive shipments critical to the production and export of finished garments, and the new service would “create a good scope to source raw materials in time”.