The total storage capacity of Chittagong port is 49,018 TEUs
Users of Chittagong port fear that the limited delivery of imported goods may lead to a serious container congestion and will slow down operations at the country’s premier maritime port.
The number of containers at the port yard is increasing significantly since the importers are taking delivery of containers slowly as the country is going through a general holiday from March 26 till April 4 to curb the spread of coronavirus.
The total storage capacity of Chittagong port is 49,018 TEUs. However, the number of loaded containers at the port yard has already risen to 40,000 TEUs.
Zafar Alam, member (admin and planning) of Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) told Dhaka Tribune that they were concerned about the slow delivery of imported goods from the port.
“We are continuously looking for options on how to increase the container storage capacity at the port yard. However, Chittagong Customs House has a great role to play in faster delivery of containers. The number of reefer containers at the port yard has already reached 2,600 TEUs,” said the CPA Member.
Reefer containers are big fridges that are used to transport temperature-sensitive cargo like fruits, meat, fish, vegetables and dairy.
CPA Secretary Omar Faruk told Dhaka Tribune that they did not face any disruption and operations at the port were going on round the clock.
“Loading and unloading of bulk cargo and containers are going on as usual. Five container vessels berthed at the port jetties on Monday. However, the delivery of containers has been slow. The containers may pile up at the port yard if the delivery continues at a slow pace,” said the CPA Secretary.
Chittagong Customs House Commissioner Fakhrul Alam said the National Board of Revenue (NBR) issued a new order yesterday stating that industrial raw materials alongside essential commodities and medical items could be delivered from now on.
“As a result, the delivery of raw materials from the port will begin. We are trying our level best to ensure quick delivery. We have already notified importers that they can get delivery of raw materials,” the Customs Commissioner said.
Ahsanul Huq Chowdhury, chairman of Bangladesh Shipping Agents’ Association (BSAA), said the port will suffer if containers are not delivered on time.
“We will urge the Shipping Ministry and the CPA to give a chance to the importers to take delivery of the loaded containers without any panel rent. The situation will improve if the importers take delivery quickly,” said the BSAA Chairman.
CPA allows importers to store their containers free of charge for four days after offloading from vessels to the yard.
Quazi Mahmud Imam, joint general secretary of Chittagong Customs Clearing & Forwarding Agents Association, suggested that the operations of feeder vessels remain suspended for some days to avoid container congestion at Chittagong port.
Khairul Alam Suzan, director of Bangladesh Freight Forwarders Association, said export-import activities have sharply fallen due to the labour crisis at the off-docks.
“The slow delivery may cause container congestion since the port will be overflowing with containers,” he said.
Around 90% of the country’s exports and imports are done through the port which is located by the estuary of the Karnaphuli River.