Apparel makers have urged the government to procure container-handling equipment to relieve congestion at Chittagong port and ease the pressure on the export-oriented garments industry.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) president Md Siddiqur Rahman made the call at a press briefing in the capital on Monday.
“When RMG makers are trying heart and soul to survive, congestion at Chittagong seaport acts like rubbing salt into the wounds,” Rahman said.
The BGMEA president said the industry’s competitive edge globally was being “eaten up” by the need to make air shipments in order to meet deadlines.
“Due to the congestion, we are failing to ship our products to our respective destinations within the deadline,” he said, adding that another concern is when vessels leave the port empty.
Terming the present status of the RMG sector “crucial”, Siddiqur said business people were demanding 5% cash incentives against the export value at least for two years to overcome the current crisis period.
He said. “I think the prime minister (Sheikh Hasina) would consider the demand in the best interest of labour.”
BGMEA made a seven-point proposal to ease the existing crisis, claiming it has originated from the lack of container-handling equipment at Chittagong seaport.
The proposals include either the immediate purchase or rent of cargo-handling equipment, the repair to two gantry cranes which remain dysfunctional, and the construction of a new container terminal to cope with the ongoing growth.
The other four points are ensuring delivery of FCL (full container load) containers stuffed with clothing raw materials in a day, prioritising berths of container-carrying vessels at the port, putting up more LCL (less container load) sheds adjacent to the port area, and discharging some LCL containers from the heavily drafted ships in a bid to ease cargo release.
The BGMEA boss stressed the need for enhancing the efficiency of Chittagong seaport, urging the government to “get the right people in the right places”.
BGMEA senior vice-president Faruque Hassan and vice-president Mohammed Nasir, among others, were also present at the meeting.