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Chittagong attains 5% box growth, export earnings cross US$52 billion mark

The Chittagong port has achieved a 5.1% increase in container handling in the fiscal year 2021-22 which ended on 30 June.

The port’s cargo handling saw nearly 4% growth and ship handling saw 4.2% growth despite the difficulties, such as a recent deadly fire at a private depot and the Russia-Ukraine ongoing war.

During the last fiscal year, the port handled 3.255 million TEU, which translates to an increase of 160,000 TEU from the previous fiscal year. Cargo handling in the just concluded year reached 118.17 million tonnes compared to 113.72 million tonnes in the previous one.

In the same period, the prime seaport of Bangladesh saw 4,231 vessels comprising container ships, bulk carriers, and oil tankers against 4,062 vessels in 2020-21.

“The growth trend is expected to continue this year, too,” said Omar Faruk, secretary and spokesperson for the Chittagong Port Authority (CPA).

With the port’s handling growing, Bangladesh’s export oriented sectors have also attained record earnings of US$52 billion in the last fiscal year registering a 34% growth despite war linked global trade disruptions.

BM Container depot fire investigation

Meantime, the port authority’s probe body has found mismanagement in handling/storing chemical-laden boxes behind the fire and blasts at the BM Container depot where 49 died and several hundred were injured.

In the probe report submitted to the port chairman last week, the committee said, the container depot kept chemical and other dangerous goods laden containers along with the apparel and other products laden boxes which resulted in fire and blast leading to the death of such a large number of people.

In the fire incident, the BM Container Depot authority found that 156 TEU of goods laden containers were burnt while 814 TEU were saved.

After the fire incident on 4 June, depot owners, shippers, and freight forwarders had been requesting the customs authority to take necessary measures so that goods laden boxes stuck at the depot can be shipped.

However, due to procedural requirements, the customs authority had to wait nearly a month to give permission to ship the boxes. The depot authority this week temporarily reopened the depot and started to release the stuck boxes which will be shipped by using other off docks.

Colombo grants priority berthing

Meantime, the Sri Lankan Ports Authority said it will grant priority berthing facility to feeder vessels to and from Chittagong port in its Jaya Container Terminal.

Some 40% of Bangladeshi shipments are being transshipped through Colombo which it now wants to raise further by offering various facilities. Bangladesh had been lobbying for the priority berthing for a long period.

The recent economic and political unrest in Sri Lanka, especially the severe shortage of foreign currency, has resulted in many mainline operators have been avoiding ports of the island nation.

Source: Container News


Sending all containers to Chittagong depots stops

The tenure for sending all types of containers to the Chittagong off docks from the port yards, which was temporarily introduced back on 25 July after boxes stockpiled at the yards following Covid-19 linked factory shutdown and Eid holidays, has ended today, 31 August.


Singapore-Malaysian ships wait over five days in Chittagong

While outbound laden containers are piling up in depots, Chittagong port yards are full of boxes. At the same time, the vessels in Chittagong are experiencing severe berthing delays raising shippers and ship owners’ woe.

Chittagong port yards face severe box congestions in lockdownThe average berthing delay of Singapore-Malaysian vessels now reached five days while some ships even waited up to ten days at the outer anchorage to reach jetties.

On 29 July, some 16 container vessels were waiting at the outer bar of the port while 11 more are loading and unloading boxes.

Ship owners said the priority berthing offered to vessels plying in Chittagong-Colombo route and the Bangladesh-flagged vessels to lower export backlog have come as a curse for vessels destined to Singapore and Malaysia transhipment points.

The berthing schedules for vessels coming from Singapore and Malaysia are repeatedly changed at Chittagong port prolonging their stay at the outer bar.

Container vessel SSL Kochi took a berth on 29 July after waiting 10 days at the outer bar. Yang Ming’s vessel Taichung is waiting at outer anchorage for the last seven days while another four ships waited for a week to get berthing. Besides, seven more vessels waited five days and another four ships waited six days.

“This will create a chain effect as about 60% of export cargo and 70% of import cargo is connected from Singapore and Malaysia transhipment points,” said an official of a shipping company in Dhaka.

“The increased waiting time will certainly create another round of inbound backlog at those transhipment ports, let alone the majority export covered through,” he added.

The official termed the act of the port authority “priority berthing for Colombo route” as “most irrational” to make numerous carriers sufferer.

Amid the situation, the Bangladesh Shipping Agents  Association (BSAA) is going to write to the port authority to stop prioritising vessels in Chittagong-Colombo route and maintain the “first come first serve” policy since the backlog in Colombo route has gone down significantly now.

Muntasir Rubayat, head of operations at GBX Logistics, noted the port is giving priority to Colombo route vessels thus the problem is created. “One of my vessels got berthing after waiting seven days at the outer bar,” he said.

As of 29 July, 42,585TEU were lying at the Chittagong port yards out of its storing capacity of 49,018TEU while some 17 inland container depots were housing 55,742TEU against a storage capacity of 78,700TEU. At the same time, 12,295TEU of export laden containers were waiting for feeder vessels nominations at the depots.

Source: Container News


Chittagong port yards face severe box congestions in lockdown

The ongoing lockdown in Bangladesh has started taking a toll on the shipping sector, especially on port yards, creating severe congestion as importers are hardly taking delivery of containers.

Chittagong port yards face severe box congestions in lockdownAs of 26 July, 43,574TEU –  of a total capacity of 49,018TEU – were lying at the Chittagong port yards, while on 25 July, 1,901TEU were delivered from the yards against a usual 4,000TEU delivery. The lowest delivery was recorded on 21 July when importers took delivery of 128TEU.

Importers say the factories and warehouses are now closed due to lockdown and all employees are on leave thus there is none to take delivery of containers from the port yards.

Amid the situation, the Bangladesh Customs on 25 July approved shifting of all kinds of import containers to 19 privately owned inland container depots (ICDs) to lower the number of boxes at the port yard.

Usually, 38 types of goods laden import boxes are shifted to the ICDs and delivered from there, but due to the new approval until 31 August all types of import containers will be shifted there.

The secretary of Chittagong Port Authority, Omar Faruk, who believes that the non-response of importers to calls from the port authority to take delivery of containers has created the crisis, said shifting all types of import boxes to the ICDs started today (26 July).

The 19 ICDs have the capacity to store 78,700TEU, while on Sunday 53,845TEU were lying. Therefore, they will be able to store 15,000 more containers, while the rest area needed for the movement of boxes.

The stockpile of 11,838TEU of export goods laden containers in the ICDs, which have been waiting for a long period, has created a severe space shortage, according to Ruhul Amin Sikder, secretary of Bangladesh Inland Container Depots Association (BICDA), who added that usually, some 6,000 such boxes stay at the off docks.

Meantime, the port authority also threatened to penalise the errant importers who do not take delivery of containers within four free days of their unloading at the port yards.

In Chittagong port, importers do not pay rent for storing containers first four days of their common landing. Rent is collected from the fifth day onwards.

Under the Regulation for Working of Chittagong Port, the authority can impose penal rent on overstaying containers after a certain period when the number of boxes goes up at the yards.

Source: Container News