The severe scarcity of containers in the Chattogram Port is hampering exports of Bangladesh, after the substantial fall of imports as a result of COVID-19.
Numerous mainline operators are carrying vacant containers from hub ports, including Singapore, Colombo and Port Klang, to Chattogram port to carry outbound cargo.
The Bangladesh Shipping Agents Association (BSAA) recently requested the Chattogram Port Authority (CPA) to halt enforced shipments of empty containers by terminal operators from the port yard, which was instigating equipment crises for goods export.
A CMA CGM official in Dhaka said, “Shipping lines are trying hard to increase imports and pushing importers to make fast deliveries of empty containers to avoid losing export bookings.”
Ahsanul Huq Chowdhury, Chairman, BSAA told the COVID-19 pandemic had damagingly affected Bangladesh imports by 30%, an effect which continues.
He also added, “To the contrary, a vertical jump in export volume is also observed, including high-value goods like ready-made garments (RMG), safeguarding Bangladesh’s position as the second-highest global apparel exporter.”
Ahsanul Huq also said that carriers were facing hitches in providing containers to exporters, especially 40ft high-cube units, due to the inbound deficit.
“To handle this situation, many carriers are bringing empty units from the nearest port of lading, or transshipment ports, even, sporadically, through financial investment from local agents,” Ahsanul Huq wrote.
In the meantime, the Chattogram Customs House held a meeting with stakeholders recently about abolishing obsolete, sub-standard, import-prohibited, non-consumable and rotten cargo, which have been left in container port yards and private depots for long periods.
Mohammed Abdullah Jahir, General Manager of PIL Bangladesh, said COVID-19 had barred many traders from gaining new letters of credit to import goods into Bangladesh. He said there were more 20ft containers available from imports than 40ft high-cube units.
“But for exports, we need more 40ft containers to pack ready-made garments, and there is an acute shortage,” told Jahir.
Mohammad Ahsanuzzaman, Associate Director of Transmarine Logistics, a local agent for Yang Ming, said some long-haul carriers had been facing equipment shortages for the past couple of months. He added there was a shortage across most Asian countries, including China.