GIS - 06 November, 2015: Identifying avenues of cooperation in the field of port development was the main focus at a meeting held yesterday at the Mauritius Ports Authority (MPA) between members of a delegation from the People’s Republic of Bangladesh and members from the MPA.
The delegation from Bangladesh, led by the Minister of Shipping, Mr Shajahan Khan, was on a visit to Mauritius on 4 and 5 November 2015. The Minister was accompanied by members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Shipping; members of the Advisory Committee, Chittagong Port Authority; and the Mayor, Chittagong City Corporation. The delegation also included Mr Abdul Mannan Howlader, High Commissioner of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh and Mr.Warisur Rehman, Second Secretary.
The aim of the visit was mainly to assess our port performance; evaluate actions that were taken to improve port efficiency; take stock of measures implemented and facilities provided for bigger and deeper draft vessels; as well as port development projects and their implementations.
The meeting of the MPA was to identify avenues of cooperation in port development between the two countries especially since Mauritius has embarked on a modernisation programme aimed at transforming Port Louis harbour into a major regional logistics and maritime hub.
Discussions were led for the Mauritian side by the Chairman of the MPA, Mr Ramalingum Maistry, and the Director General of the MPA, Mr Shekur Suntah, and by the Minister of Shipping, Mr Shajahan Khan, and the High Commissioner of Bangladesh, Mr Abdul Mannan Howlader, for the Bangladesh side.
The Director General of the MPA, Mr Shekur Suntah, pointed out that the Mauritian Government is committed to developing its maritime economy, seeing it as an important driver of economic growth and is keen to create new opportunities across all sectors. He added that the harbour of Port-Louis will be called upon to play a crucial role in transforming the macroeconomic fundamentals of Mauritius, thus repositioning Port Louis as an international and efficient conduit for international trade. In that context, projects coming from abroad need to be fast tracked, he said.
Mr Suntah highlighted that port development will focus on several major activities, namely bunkering, seafood, and transshipment. With regards to transshipment, the MPA is planning to improve the Terminal by strengthening the existing structure to handle 8,000 TEUs capacity vessels, extend the quay structure to accommodate two large capacity vessels, and extend the hardstand area to increase the capacity of the Terminal. The Director General stated that by 2025 with the new projects, a capacity of one million containers will be available at the Terminal. At present, 250 000 containers are being accommodated in the Terminal.
The Mauritian Government is actively promoting Port Louis harbour as a bunkering port in the region. With over 30,000 vessels passing Mauritius annually, the economic potential to develop the island as a bunker supplier and hub is significant. The positioning of Mauritius as a seafood logistics hub and the development of a new fishing port is also high on Government’s agenda.
For his part, the High Commissioner of Bangladesh, Mr Abdul Mannan Howlader, made a brief overview of Bangladesh which is a middle-income country and has a population of around 165 million. He said that Bangladesh can be a development partner having export commodities, while adding that Mauritius can be used as a linking port between Bangladesh and Africa. He added that in the field of fish processing, Bangladesh is very efficient and can share its expertise with Mauritius.
The delegation was also interested in the MPA’s new role as a Landlord Port Authority and how it achieved a Concession Contract with our port operator, the Cargo Handling Corporation Ltd.
Mr Howlader formally extended an invitation to Mauritius to visit their major port of Chittagong managed by the Chittagong Port Authority to further discuss on areas of cooperation between the two ports, as well as exchange of port cadres and training facilities.