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Hapag-Lloyd stops shipping Bangladesh-bound cargoes from Singapore port

Hapag-Lloyd, one of the world’s biggest container shipping companies, has suspended carrying fresh Bangladesh-bound cargoes from Singapore port, which may worsen the ongoing container crisis in Chattogram port.

The company has stopped it as per the advice of the Port of Singapore just a couple of days ago, according to a document obtained by the FE.

The advice reads: “The German shipping giant will not carry Bangladesh-bound cargoes up to 4 weeks.”

People at the shipping circle in Dhaka and Chattogram said that many big container transportation firms were now focusing on China, Europe and USA routes for their recent economic booms coupled with higher freights.

Hapag Lloyd, the world’s fifth-largest shipping firm by fleets, has a significant market share in Bangladesh as it carries nearly 9,000 TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) of imports per month.

It also transports almost similar volumes of export containers from Bangladesh each month on average.

Shipping executives in Chattogram and Dhaka said that such a stoppage by one major player will have multiple impacts on the trade.

The concerned importers will face problems in getting their goods on time and, as a result, the prices of imported essential goods would increase. The crisis created over empty containers may also worsen further, they expressed the fear.

After discharging from ships, the containers go to private depots for unloading goods. Then the empty ones are used for export purposes.

Mohammed Abdullah Jahir, chief operating officer at the Saif Maritime Limited, told the FE: “The concerned consignees will suffer as a result of the stoppage.”

But, he said the mainline operator or MLO, however, has been encouraging Bangladesh-bound cargoes from Colombo port, another shipping hub in the region.

Mr. Jahir said more than 2,500 TEUs of backlog containers at the Port of Singapore are meant for Bangladesh.

He said the MLO may clear the backlog first as the Singapore Port is expensive for storing containers for a long time there.

Mr. Shahed Sarwar, deputy managing director at the “K” Line Bangladesh said that such a stoppage will worsen the ongoing container crisis in Chattogram.

He said many private depots have been facing an acute shortage of empty containers for stuffing exports.

“It [Hapag] carries at least 9000 TEUs a month. So, such abrupt stoppage will have a chain-impact on Bangladesh’s external trade.”

Captain AS Chowdhury, country-head of Singapore-based feeder operator Seacon, said: “The container crisis had surfaced in Bangladesh much ago, keeping consistency with the global trend. But the latest development is that many big MLOs are now opting for trades between China and Europe or the USA.”

He said the freights in the route are much higher than the Bangladesh-Singapore route.

Mr. Chowdhury said: “To my mind, such type of diversion by the mainline operators is one of the reasons behind the container crisis in Bangladesh.”

In the meantime, the private container depots or off-docks that handle export cargoes have been facing a severe shortage of empty containers.

“We’ve a shortage of empty containers to stuff the export cargoes,” said Mr. Ruhul Amin Sikder, secretary at the Bangladesh Inland Container Depots, a group of 18 private depots.

He said the export cargoes were also increasing over the past few weeks.

However, the total import handled by the Chittagong Port was 119,692 TEUs in June 2021. On the other hand, Bangladesh shipped 63,770 TEUs in June last, according to the port’s data.
Source: Financial Express

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