Maersk Launches Inland Container Service Between India and Bangladesh

Maersk inland barge
It might just be Maersk's smallest containership offering inland barge service between India and Bangladesh (Maersk)

Published Jul 25, 2022 7:19 PM by The Maritime Executive

It might be Maersk’s smallest container ship, but the new inland service represents a unique solution to ensuring the movement of containers. Maersk says the service will provide a faster, more reliable inland waterways solution to move containers between India and neighboring Bangladesh.

The new service kicked off by transporting 50 containers from Kolkata in India to a river port near Dhaka in Bangladesh on a barge. According to Vikash Agarwal, Managing Director, Maersk South Asia, while the route has created trade opportunities for the two countries over the last decades, by advancing into containerized transport provides a safer option for cargo. The first shipment on the Indo-Bangladesh Protocol Route was completed for Coca-Cola Bangladesh Beverages.

According to Maersk, the cargo movement on inland waterways or rivers is much more reliable, especially in monsoons, when the turbulent weather can cause delays while transporting goods over the ocean. Moreover, with the ocean network running under capacity pressure, the alternative inland waterways route that is quicker and more reliable offering a solution that also addresses the bottleneck at the land border between the two countries.

“The maiden barge voyage has been successfully executed where there has been a significant reduction of transit time,” said Soumyendu Sen Sarma, Director – Finance, Coca-Cola Bangladesh Beverages. “The delivery schedule of the cargo, which used to be routed through the transshipment hub and then arrives in Chittagong and further to the destination, used to be impacted severely with delays. The speed of delivery with the new solution offered by Maersk over inland waterways is going to be extremely beneficial for us.”

The Governments of both countries have encouraged trade on the Indo-Bangladesh Protocol Route and according to Maersk recently strengthened the customs processes further to enhance the ease of doing business.

“Our solution to move cargo across the Indo-Bangladesh border has a saving of over 60 percent in terms of transit time,” said Angshuman Mustafi, Head of Maersk Bangladesh. 

The shipping giant also highlights that the unique new barge service is not only a benefit for trade between India and Bangladesh but also extends the connection to landlocked Bhutan.