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Shipping ministry suggests steps to ease export backlog

The Ministry of Shipping (MoS) has suggested introduction of ‘direct interchange’ of containers to ease the existing backlog in the Chattogram Port.

‘Direct interchange’ means that a container belonging to one particular line can be used by others.

The MoS also suggested signing of a ‘common carrier agreement’ between the mainline operators and the feeder lines to tackle the crisis.

‘Common carrier agreement’ is a deal where the available feeder vessel can transport the available stuffed goods under its authority. This means available vessels can carry the goods up to Singapore Port and Colombo Port to link with mother vessels.

The decisions came up from a meeting, held with key stakeholders last week.

Omar Faruk, secretary of the Chattogram Port Authority (CPA), told the FE: “The ministry’s decisions have already been informed to all stakeholders. They will act accordingly to ease the backlog.”

He also said: “We do hope that the situation will improve, if the stakeholders duly abide by the decisions.”

However, many shipping executives told the FE that the only way to improve the situation is to raise the number of container vessels connecting the port.

“If there are many container vessels connecting the port, they can carry the export containers,” said Captain A S Chowdhury, country head of Seacon, a leading feeder service operator.

Shippers said they were paying extra charge for the backlog. Covered vans are asking for at least Tk 3,000 for a day’s delay.

“In some cases, the covered vans have to wait even for three days. Besides, we’re losing our export competitiveness,” said Abdus Salam Murshedy, managing director of Envoy Textiles.

In the meantime, backlog at the depots deteriorated further on Sunday.

As of Sunday, a total of 14,732 TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) of export cargoes remained stockpiled at different off-docks, which were 966 TEUs more from Saturday. The depots usually have stock of around 6,000 TEUs of containers during normal period.

The backlog took place due to lack of pre-assigned feeder vessels in the port. The feeder vessels take cargoes to the mother vessels to reach USA and Europe.

On the other hand, the depots had a total of 32,707 TEUs on Sunday, down by 1,548 TEUs than Saturday.

They had 10,657 TEUs 40-ft empty containers on the day, needed for stuffing export goods, according to the statistics of the Bangladesh Inland Container Depots Association (BICDA).

There are a total of 19 off-docks in Chattogram, of which 17 are in operation. They have an aggregate storing capacity of 77,700 TEUs.
Source: Financial Express

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