The port's initial handling capacity was 1.7 million TEU, which has gradually improved through adding equipment and terminals, The Loadstar, UK reported.
Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) member Zafar Alam told The Loadstar that the transport of goods to and from the port has been almost entirely dependent on roads: some 93 per cent of containers went to Dhaka by road, five per cent by train and two per cent by waterways.
"But the dependency on roads will be cut significantly when the Dhaka-Chittagong dual rail track comes online this year," said Mr Alam.
He said several private sector conglomerates had set up inland container terminals near Dhaka, where the government also has a container terminal.
In late December, the executive committee of the National Economic Council, chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, approved developing another inland container and bulk terminal in Narayanganj, a Dhaka suburb, at a cost of US$47 million.
Mr Alam said there had also been some private investment in ships, which would help increase the transport of domestic containers by waterways.
CPA chairman Rear Admiral Zulfiqur Aziz said the port could reach the "three million club" of container handling thanks to adding significant equipment last year and efficient management. Last year the port acquired more quay gantry cranes, mobile harbour cranes, rail mounted gantry cranes, rubber-tired gantry cranes and straddle carriers, among other equipment.
According to port officials, this year the port will buy four more quay gantry cranes, 11 rubber-tyred gantry cranes and 27 straddle carriers from Europe at a cost of $107 million.
Rear Admiral Aziz said half of the construction work on Patenga Container Terminal near Chittagong port was complete, and it would be ready this year for handling containers. The terminal will have capacity for half a million TEU per annum over its 600-metre long jetties, where three containerships and one oil tanker will be able to berth simultaneously.
He also said work was under way on Bay Terminal, which will house a 1,500-metre multipurpose terminal and two container terminals of 1,225 metres and 830 metres, expected to be in operation by 2025.
Neighbour India has been granted transshipment facilities to carry goods to its north eastern region using Bangladesh's Chittagong and Mongla ports. Rear Admiral Aziz said trial runs between Chittagong and Kolkata ports would be held in January, followed by regular runs.