A 32-storey ship will start operation on the Chattogram-Jeddah sea route from 2024 to carry Hajj pilgrims at an affordable cost to Saudi Arabia in eight days.
Karnaphuli Ship Builders Ltd has taken the initiative to launch the ship on the route.
A policy has been formulated in this regard by the shipping ministry, Managing Director of the company Engineer MA Rashid told a press conference on Wednesday organised at the MV Bay One terminal at Patenga in Chattogram.
He said earlier it would take around a month to make the journey to Saudi Arabia by sea but now ships are using modern technology and have higher speed, he said.
“We hope to introduce a cost-effective travelling option for the Hajj pilgrims,” Rashid added.
He further said travelling by sea will enable Hajj pilgrims to perform their prayers in the ship without any inconvenience which, perhaps, is not always possible while travelling by air.
Rashid said, “We have held a meeting with 11 ministries, including shipping, regarding the launch of the ship to carry Hajj pilgrims, and a summary of the meeting has been sent to the prime minister.” There are 10 classification societies around the world who give approval to operate a ship seeing the fitness, repair, and operation of the vessel.
“I will import an old ship with 32 floors approved by the Classification Society with a capacity to carry 3,000 passengers at a time. The ship will have a huge auditorium where 2,000 pilgrims can sit together,” he added.
It costs Tk5,000 crore to build a new ship with 14-15 floors, said Rashid.
“We will import a ship at a cost of Tk500 crore where one pilgrim will spend Tk5 lakh to perform Hajj. A discount of at least one and a half lakh would be given,” he said.
“We propose carrying Hajj pilgrims for two months a year. In the remaining 10 months, it will carry passengers on various routes in Asia. If the response is good during the Hajj season, the ship will be chartered,” said Rashid.
He added: If the ship departs seven days before the start of Hajj, there is no need to go to Saudi Arabia and rent a hotel for 7-8 days which would save each of them Tk1.5 lakh.