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Severe Congestion Slows Down Chittagong Port

: Transport

Inadequate infrastructure at Chittagong port has created severe congestion of cargo vessels 2017-07-19

The owners of different industries say the main cause of the congestion of ships at the port is the infrastructure crisis.

Since 13 May, on an average every day, around 15 cargo vessels have to wait at the outer anchorage of the Chittagong port. Although it normally requires one day for unloading goods, now it requires 12 days.

Due to congestion, the container ships have to wait long at the port. As a result, the companies concerned have raised the container fare of Chittagong-bound cargo vessels. The importers and entrepreneurs have to bear the loss. 

In June, different companies have raised the fare of goods of Chittagong-bound container ships from Shenzen, Shanghai and Guangzhou of China. Because of delay, they have raised it from $50 to $275. 

According to Bangladesh Bank, 26 per cent of the commodities are imported from China. A total of 1,00,000 containers (each 20 foot-long) arrive at the Chittagong port every month. If a $100 for each container is collected, the businesses have to spend an additional Tk 800 million every month.

The president of the Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry Mahbubul Alam told Prothom Alo that the consumers ultimately have to bear the additional expenses. If the condition of the port remains so poor, it would be difficult to continue business, he added.

Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) president Siddiqur Rahman in a letter to Chittagong port chairman on 22 June said it takes 15-20 days for unloading goods at the port.

It has been disastrous for the readymade garments, he said adding the buyers expressed concern as they are not getting their goods in time. A delegation of foreign buyers held a meeting with the BGMEA president and expressed their concerns.

According to the statistics of the port, in May, 10 ships waited at the outer anchorage to reach the jetty in the port. The number increased to 16 in June while 17 ships waited between 1 July and 13 July. On the contrary, eight ships waited at the outer anchorage every day last year. A ship carries 1000 containers.

The RMG sector is being affected severely by the congestion of container vessels. There is no congestion of ships at the ports of Vietnam, China, Sri Lanka, India and Cambodia, the competitors of Bangladesh RMG.Local entrepreneurs have lagged behind 1-2 weeks in comparison with them.

BGMEA president Siddiqur Rahman said regarding port facilities, Bangladesh is lagging behind its competitors. If the port facilities are not improved, the RMG sector will not survive, he warned.

In 2015-16, about 2.2 million containers were transported through the Chittagong. During the outgoing fiscal of 2016-17, the figure increased to over 2.4 million containers.

At this rate, a new jetty needs to be built every year. After 2007, no jetty was built for seafaring vessels. In fact, facilities of one jetty have decreased as two two gantry cranes went out of order following an accident before Eid.

Port users said it will need over three years to complete the construction of a new jetty if it is started in full swing. A total of 98 per cent containers on the sea route are carried through the Chittagong port. And 12 jetties are used for loading and unloading of goods.

Due to trouble in the port, the country's economy has a negative impact.

Port chairman rear admiral M Khaled Iqbal told Prothom Alo that the congestion of ships was created as the unloading of goods was suspended for three days in May due to a cyclone. Steps have been taken and the situation will be normal in 2-3 weeks.

In a circular of 15 June, shipping company Maersk Line, a sister concern of Singapore-based MCC Transport, declared the increase of surcharge.

According to the circular, $600 was raised per container of Chittagong-bound ships from North Asia and South Asia including China. Since November last year, the rate was $450 and $400.

President of Bangladesh Shippers Council Rezaul Karim said some shipping companies are charging additional fare in the name of surcharge. He suggested the port authorities work on improving the situation.

Asian Feeder Discussion Group, an alliance of Singapore-based shipping companies, has declared the additional fare of $150 for a container of any Chittagong-bound ship.

Source:  Prothom Alo


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