Ellicott Dredges Bound for Bangladesh for Use in River Maintenance
The 2070 Dragon has three pontoons, with all the main equipment in the center tank, for fewer shipping loads and easier assembly in the field.
BY JUDITH POWERS
Two Ellicott Series 2070 Dragon® dredges are awaiting shipment to Bangladesh, where they will perform river maintenance as part of the government’s vast program to restore navigability to its river system.
Massive siltation and minimal dredging in past decades has caused serious disruption in water transportation, which is a major national and international means of transportation in the country.
According to the Bangladesh Inland Waterway Transport Authority (BIWTA), river transportation in Bangladesh is served by 24,000 kilometers (14,913 miles) of channels on 52 major rivers with more than 700 tributaries. Out of this total, 6,000 kilometers (3,728 miles) are accessible by motorized vessels during high water in the monsoon season, and 3,800 kilometers (2,361 miles) are navigable year-round, including during low water in the dry season.
Hundreds of thousands of small boats, traditional vessels that have been plying inland and coastal waters for hundreds of years, play a key role as a rural mode of transport of goods and people. Inland ports and other facilities include 11 major inland ports, 23 coastal island ports, 133 launch stations and more than 1,000 minor landing points located in rural areas.
The rivers all originate in India and beyond, and carry an annual sediment load of 2.5 billion tons on their way to the vast delta in the south of the country. The rivers terminate in the Bay of Bengal.
Major rivers that originate in surrounding countries carry large sediment loads through Bangladesh and into the
vast delta in the south part of the country. From Wikimedia
A 2009 assessment of the nation’s waterway system reported that the nation’s private sector dredging industry is more efficient in dredging than the BIWTA, offering a capacity of 6.9 million cubic meters: 2.5 times the capacity BIWTA, and at a lower cost. Improved waterways have the potential to reduce transport costs for bulk cargo and provide better access to areas, such as in the Northwest of Bangladesh, where road access is limited, the report stated.
The assessors reported a high rate of siltation and bank erosion, which make navigation difficult. “Extensive dredging is required to maintain these waterways but unfortunately funds are not available for this work. Major parts of the corridor suffer from navigation hazards, such as shallow water, narrow width of channels and inadequate navigation aids. As a result, night navigation is allowed only on certain sections,” it stated.
Since the 2009 report, the government has called for a sizable increase in dredging capability in the country for both navigation and flood control purposes. The purchase of the two Ellicott dredges is the response of one Bangladeshi contractor to this request. The name of that contractor has not been released.
One new dredging company that was formed to restore the navigability of the river system is Bashundhara Dredging Company Limited, which was formed in March 2010 “with the core objectives to help the nation to retrieve its old heritage of river transportation and thrive the economy as a whole by making all major rivers of the land navigable round the year,” the company states on its website. “The Bashundhara dredging company Limited has already procured four most modern dredgers and in the process of assembling several other dredgers at its Katuail shipyard,” the statement concludes.
In addition, contracts have been let to foreign companies for restoring navigation in certain major shipping channels.
On March 6 of this year, the Bangladesh Internet newspaper bdnews24.com reported that Water Resources Minister Anisul Islam Mahmud was discussing a plan with an un-named Singaporean company to dredge rivers in Bangladesh in exchange for the excavated sand.
“So, we are now conducting experiments in some areas to check whether it causes any harm,” the minister said. He said a survey found that BTK 9 trillion ($111,597,822,913 USD) will be needed to dredge all the big rivers.
“It’s not possible for us to manage this much money now. Moreover, managing the excavated silt is also a major problem for us,” he said. He said the proposed project would start in the river Jamuna, which carries half a billion metric tons of silt into Bangladesh every year. “But we want to check first whether the project would negatively affect our environment,” he added.
FEATURES OF THE 2070
Ellicott’s Series 2070 was designed to meet Bureau Veritas (BV) Rules for Sheltered Waters, which includes rivers, harbors and protected and land-locked bays – the conditions existing on the Bangladeshi rivers. It can be shipped in fewer containers or truckloads than the previous model, and is easier to assemble in the field. Where its predecessor, the Series 1870, has five pontoons in its hull design, the 2070 has only three. All the main machinery is in the center pontoon. The two side pontoons are for flotation, and have more deck space, which appeals to a lot of dredge owners, said Paul Quinn, vice president of sales for Ellicott.
The Caterpillar engines are low-emission Tier III, and include a dedicated engine for the pump – a 1300hp (970kW); and a separate 440hp (328 kW) engine dedicated to the hydraulic system. The dual-engine system allows for full hydraulic power to the cutter and winches even when reduced RPMs on the pump are necessary.
A third 2070 was sold to a U.S. company and is working in Savannah, Georgia. All 2070s are produced in the company’s Baltimore plant, while 1870s will continue to be produced in the Wisconsin facility.