Chittagong port eyes conveyor system to fight congestion

Chittagong port eyes conveyor system to fight congestion

Chittagong port officials say carrying containers via an overhead conveyor system will enhance the port’s handling efficiency by 15 percent. Photo credit: Shutterstock.com.

The Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) is studying whether to implement an automated overhead conveyor system for short-haul container moves to improve flow and ease truck congestion at Bangladesh’s main port.

The CPA this week signed a contract with US-based EagleRail, which touts an all-electric “overhead container transportation solution.” The contract has launched a study to determine whether building out the overhead conveyor system makes sense at Chittagong.

Port officials are hopeful — they say carrying containers with the conveyor system will enhance the port’s container handling efficiency by 15 percent, as some 300 TEU can be moved in an hour.

About 5,000 vehicles carrying containers enter the Chittagong port area daily, creating massive congestion in the port yard. If the new overhead system was in place, no trucks would have to enter the port area.

The overhead conveyors would carry containers from the port yard to the overflow yard and nearby inland container depots (ICDs). 

CPA member Zafar Alam told JOC.com once the containers started carrying overhead from the port yard to the overflow yard and ICDs nearby, the congestion in port surrounding areas area will go.

“The system is effective and can move containers without affecting normal city traffic,” the CPA said in a statement. “The system will run by Eagle-i logistics software and will be synchronized with the existing Container Terminal Management System of Chittagong port.”

The study will assess the environmental, economic, social, and land use aspect of the conveyor system.

Built with a capacity to handle 1.7 million TEU annually, the Chittagong port last year handled 2.8 million TEU, up 9 percent over 2017. The port frequently faces container congestion in its yard and vessel queues offshore despite recent capacity enhancements.