Bangladesh wins 100 mln dlr ship contract in boost to industry

DHAKA - Bangladesh’s main shipbuilder said on Saturday it had won a 100-million-dollar contract to build eight vessels, a deal seen as helping pave the way for the nation to emerge as a major shipbuilder.

By (AFP)

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Published: Sat 28 Apr 2007, 8:10 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 9:18 PM

Shipbuilding officials and local media said the contract was the impoverished South Asian nation’s single biggest export order.

Ananda Shipyards Shipways Ltd (ASSL) signed the joint deal with two German companies earlier this month to build eight ships with capacity for 325 containers by June 2010, company chairman Abdullahel Bari told AFP.

“This is the single biggest export order for Bangladesh and it will go a long way to making the country a major world shipbuilding nation,” Bari said.

Government officials could not be reached for confirmation on whether it was Bangladesh’s biggest export order as offices were shut for the weekend.

Bangladesh has become a new destination for companies seeking construction of small ocean-going vessels as traditional shipbuilding nations such as South Korea and China now focus on building large ships.

Schiffahrtskontor Tom Woden GmbH and Co and Ernst Komrowki Holding KG signed the deal with ASSL after inspecting its facilities on the river Meghna and failing to find any shipbuilder willing to construct ships for them in China.

“They’re convinced we can build ships and deliver them on time. We have enough skilled workforce,” said Bari, adding he planned to double his 700-strong workforce to fill the order.

The company has invested heavily in equipment in the past few years.

With the new deal “we have orders worth 125 million dollars. We will hand over two ships to a Danish company by year-end. We’re also in talks with a Dutch company to build 22 ships for them,” Bari said.

“We’re now swamped with orders,” he said.

Announcement of the deal comes after Western Marine, another shipbuilder in the southeastern port city of Chittagong, last week clinched an 11-million-dollar order to build a tugboat for a Singapore company.

Riverine Bangladesh has been known for its small ferry-making industry since its independence in 1971. Most of the country’s nearly 3,000 ferries were made in the country’s shipyards.

Bangladesh’s more than one dozen shipbuilding yards employ some 20,000 workers but officials say they can ramp up production and manpower quickly.

Expert said it was only a matter of time until Bangladesh emerges as a major hub for building small ocean-going ships.

“The country has always had enough skilled and cheap workforce. Now it has the know-how and facilities,” said C.F. Zaman, Bangladesh head of worldwide ship inspection agency Germischer Lloyd.

“I can easily foresee local shipbuilding emerging as a billion-dollar industry in four to five years’ time. It can easily be a global leader in the small-ship making industry.”

ASSL chief Bari said the industry even had the potential to dwarf the country’s garments sector, the biggest export earner.

“It took us 25 years to earn 10 billion dollars a year in the garments sector. The shipbuilders can do it in less than 10 years,” he said.

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