BIWTA-delegation in Europe for pre-shipment Inspection (The Netherlands)

A delegation from the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority, headed by BIWTA-Chairman Abdul Meleque Miah, visited Europe in May. The main purpose of the trip was the pre-shipment inspection of the components for three cutter suction dredgers to be built at Chittagong-based Karnafuly Shipyard, whose Managing Director M.A. Rashid was among the delegates.

The actual pre-shipment inspection of the dredge monitoring and production management systems, operating desks, ladder hoisting winches and other vital components of the new dredgers took place in a warehouse in Beverwijk, some twenty kilometres from Amsterdam, capital of the Netherlands. The non-ceremonial but lively event was hosted by German-Dutch VOSTA LMG, Karnafuly Shipyard’s partner in the construction of the three dredging vessels that are meant to boost the capacity of BIWTA ageing fleet of seven dredgers. ‘Our dredging fleet dates back to the days of the great Leader Bangabandhu Shiekh Mujibur Rahman as prime minister of our country, who was in charge of the Ministry of Shipping also,’ BIWTA-chairman Abdul Maleque Mia said in Beverwijk. ‘Out of the 24.000 km of river in Bangladesh 8000 km are navigable in the monsoon season, and only about 5000 km in the dry season. Our charter as BIWTA is to maintain and if possible improve that navigability. For us, dredging is an ongoing, never ending process.’

Backlog

The procurement of the three dredgers from the VOSTA LMG/Karnafuly Joint Venture Consortium Limited is only the first step in a bid to make good the backlog in dredging capacity that Bangladesh is faced with, as BIWTA-member Feroze Ahmed explained. ‘Our present government has set up programmes to dredge our rivers as well as to develop the surrounding land and bring back rivers to their true size. The Chairman has submitted programs for the dredging of 320 million cubic metres over a period of nine years. To excavate that much volume, we will need at least 25 to 30 additional dredgers.’

Knowledge transfer

Unknown to many, Bangladesh has a flourishing shipbuilding industry of its own that even exports to European countries, including Germany. Expertise in building dredgers, however, is lacking. It turns out to be one of the reasons for awarding the contract for the three cutter suction dredgers to the VOSTA LMG/Karnafuly Joint Venture Consortium Limited. Feroze Ahmed: ‘The global tender we put out for the construction of these three vessels attracted bids from six companies: from Italy, the USA, China, Turkey and two companies from Holland. There was a provision in the tender that the company involved would have to work in close cooperation with a local partner in Bangladesh. A proven willingness and ability to transfer their knowledge and expertise was a key requirement. From the literature, and especially their website, it became clear that VOSTA LMG, with their history of similar projects in Malaysia, Vietnam and other countries, fitted that profile. That Karnafuly Shipyard and VOSTA LMG together put in the lowest bid did help, but was certainly not the most important consideration.’ Ahmeds comment gets a nod of approval from BIWTA’s Chief Engineer Abdul Matin, who adds: ‘Another important condition was that the Bangladesh shipyard had to have proven experience in building class vessels. Karnafuly Shipyard eminently fits that bit. It is the first local shipyard that is going to benefit from the kind of knowledge transfer we had in mind when we put out our tender.’

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Source: VOSTA LMG, June 3, 2010

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