Thousands of containers are reportedly stuck at Bangladesh’s Chittagong Port following lack of manpower, causing severe congestion and affecting container handling and dispatch activities.
Operations at the country’s largest maritime port have been hit due to the unavailability of transport and poor presence of freight forwarding (C&F) agents, many of whom have reportedly failed to turn up for duty following the recent Eid holidays.
The port was in news recently after Forbes list put it in the 71st position amongst world’s 100 top container handling ports.
The situation has greatly affected the efficiency of the Chittagong Port as most of the vessels have been forced to overstay for 7-10 days as against the normal turnaround time of 2-3 days, port officials maintained.
As per the figures available with the port authorities, there were 34,160 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) of containers in the port’s container yards a day prior to the holy festival of Eid, which has now swelled to 41,000 TEUs. This is way above the capacity of 36,357 TEUs.
The congestion is reportedly more acute at the yards designated to hold imported goods with the holding capacity of 26,857 TEUs.
Storing way over its capacity at 37,550 TEUs presently, the yards are urgently waiting at least 6,673 TEUs of containers to be taken away to privately-owned Inland Container Depots (ICDs).
At any given time, the number of containers waiting to be taken to ICDs hover between 2,000 and 2,500.
“The situation would improve within 3-4 days,” maintained Fazle Ekram Chowdhury, President of Ship Handling and Terminal Operator Owners Association.
This fresh congestion at the Chittagong Port is expected to hit all export-oriented businesses, especially apparels, underlined leaders of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
The officials of the garment trade association hence urged the concerned authorities to take immediate and necessary steps, failing which the garment exporters would not be able to meet the deadlines they expressed fear.
Delayed shipments would severely affect their business, garment exporters opined.