Bangladesh’s largest port eyes operations upgrade with Saudi investment

Bangladesh’s largest port eyes operations upgrade with Saudi investment
This file photo shows a general view of Bangladesh's Chittagong Port, the busiest container port on the Bay of Bengal. (AN Photo)
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Updated 25 June 2023

Bangladesh’s largest port eyes operations upgrade with Saudi investment

Bangladesh’s largest port eyes operations upgrade with Saudi investment
  • Red Sea Gateway Terminal to operate Bangladesh’s newly built terminal
  • Bangladesh hopeful Saudi company will take over by end of this year

DHAKA: Bangladesh is banking on Saudi expertise to run a newly built terminal in the country’s largest port, authorities told Arab News, as negotiations are underway for Riyadh’s latest investment in the South Asian nation.

Saudi port developer Red Sea Gateway Terminal was selected by the Bangladeshi Ministry of Shipping to operate the new $240 million Patenga Container Terminal in Chittagong Port, making it the first foreign company to receive Dhaka’s offer to operate its ports.

“RSGT will operate the newly built Patenga Container Terminal,” Abul Bashar, director-general of programming and investment promotion in Bangladesh’s Public Private Partnership Authority, told Arab News.

This is the first time the government offers a foreign company the chance to operate the largest port in the country, Bashar said. 

“Hopefully, by the end of this year, RSGT will be able to take over the terminal operations,” he added.

Under the expected deal, RSGT will equip, operate and maintain the Patenga terminal, which covers between 5 and 7 percent of Chittagong’s entire operations, the rest of which are handled by the Chittagong Port Authority.

The Saudi company will take over Patenga’s operations for 22 years. The first two years will be dedicated to preparing and installing equipment, Bashar said, adding that Dhaka is expecting RSGT to “use all ultra-modern equipment and technology.”

Bashar said: “RSGT has a proven track record in Saudi Arabia and other countries for managing port operations smoothly.

“The Bangladeshi government believes that if a company like RSGT joins the port operations activities here, in the future there will also be an opportunity for technology transfer.”

RSGT CEO Jens O. Floe previously said the company’s “proposed investment is a vote of confidence in Bangladesh’s future.”

The Saudi firm also said Chittagong’s rapid growth and RSGT’s competencies are a good match.

“The rapid growth of Chittagong Port’s cargo volumes necessitates further investment in modern equipment, advanced technology and building new human capacity. This project fits well with Red Sea Gateway Terminal’s competencies and its expansion strategy for emerging markets,” Gagan Seksaria, RSGT’s director of global investments, said in a statement issued last August.

“We are very confident that, through this investment, we will be able to contribute significantly to Bangladesh’s fast-growing trade and economy.”

Chittagong Port is the busiest container port on the Bay of Bengal, which handled about 3.2 million 20-foot equivalent units in the 2021 fiscal year and served as the main gateway for Bangladesh’s ocean cargo import and export. This included products from its garment sector, which accounts for 80 percent of the country’s exports and 11 percent of its gross domestic product.