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Chittagong depots to raise charges by 42.5% amid diesel price hike

As the fuel oil price in Bangladesh saw a record hike on 5 August, the inland container depots in Chittagong have moved to raise diesel-linked service charges by 42.5% to meet up the costs arising.

The Chittagong inland container depots provide at least five types of services which are dependent on the use of diesel.

The depot owners informed the shipping agents and freight forwarders that they want to raise the charges for services like empty container haulage/ transportation, empty container lift-on/lift-off, export goods and container handling, export container verified gross mass (VGM) and package charge.

According to some depot owners, with the proposed rate hike, the depot charges for an import container will increase by nearly US$48/TEU and US$55/FEU.

On the other hand, export stuffing package charge for a TEU will increase by US$25 and for an FEU by US$33.

Nurul Qayyum Khan, president of Bangladesh Inland Container Depot Association (BICDA), said depots have no other option but to raise the charges as the fuel oil prices skyrocketed.

“We will hike the charges only those services which have links with diesel use,” he told Container News.

He noted the depot owners have individually informed the development to their customers. BICDA members will sit together soon and also have a meeting with the Bangladesh Shipping Agents Association to discuss the issue.

The last time BICDA raised charges by 23% was when the government increased fuel oil prices in November 2021.

Syed Mohammad Arif, chairman of Bangladesh Shipping Agents Association (BSAA), said under the 2016 ICD policy there was a committee of the ministry of shipping which had to oversee any kind of charge hike in the shipping sector.

However, the National Board of Revenue (NBR) created another ICD policy in 2021, which did not keep the committee looking after the charge hike issues.

Arif said he has unofficially requested a BICDA vice president not to raise charges on overall cost rather to enhance charge on actual cost hike.

Bangladeshi apparel shippers say the depot charge hike will come as another big blow to their trade as transportation charge is also rising.

Shahidullah Azim, acting president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), told Container News that BICDA last time increased charges on their will without discussion with the depot users.

“I will soon talk to the BICDA leadership on this issue,” he pointed out and added both the import and export costs will go up due to the charge hike lowering Bangladesh’s apparel sector’s competitiveness.

Source: Container News


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


Chittagong, Mongla sea ports get new acts

The authorities of Bangladesh’s two major seaports, Chittagong and Mongla, got new acts, passed on 4 and 5 April in the parliament, empowering the port authorities to take decisions more independently instead of waiting for the government’s approval.

Both the port authorities now can give waivers, up to US$1,250, in the cases of rent, toll, fee, etc to port users in their own decision.

Opposition party members in the parliament, however, opposed the provision of giving more power to the port authority which they said will further enhance the scope of corruption.

The bills for Chittagong Port Authority Act-2022 and the Mongla Port Authority Act-2022 were passed repealing the ordinances of 1976 for both ports.

The new acts say any vessels that create wastages in the ports area have to clean by their own arrangement. In case of failure, the port authority can fine them for pollution.

The persons /vessels responsible for pollution can be given two years jail term and up to a US$2,500 fine, according to the new acts.

Additionally, if any vessel causes any damage of dock, pier or any of the port establishments, the port authorities are given the power to fine the vessel or vessel master.

Under the acts, the port authorities have been empowered to realise due rents, fines, fees, tolls, and demurrages by auctioning cargoes that remained in its control for a certain period.

Presently, the Mongla port jetties are being operated by the port authority itself. In the new act, provision is kept to run the port or jetties by appointing private sector operators.

Source: Container News


Four new container vessels in Chittagong-Colombo route to lessen export backlog

The Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) has approved plying of four new feeder vessels in Chittagong-Colombo route in a bid to lessen the mounting export cargo backlog at the inland container depots (ICDs).

Of the 15,300 export-laden container backlog in Chittagong off docks, 70% are of Maersk Line which failed to be carried to Colombo due to the lack of feeder vessels, according to the shippers.

Maersk has taken huge booking of containers despite it has no feeder vessels in Chittagong-Colombo route, as the company carries boxes in this route using the vessels of Seacon, OEL, and some other third-party operators.

The CPA on 12 July gave approval for two new vessels owned by Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC). The first vessel is the 1,000TEU OEL India, which sails under the flag of Panama, and the second one is Hermann Schepers, a 1,100TEU boxship registered in Antigua Barbuda.

Mohammad Ajmir Hossain Chowdhury, MSC’s deputy general manager said the two vessels will start plying in the route after one week, while he pointed out that none shows interest to run vessel in Chittagong-Colombo route.

Due to the vessel crisis in this route, MSC decided to deploy two vessels bringing from other routes, according to Chowdhury, who hopes “the two vessels will help lower the crisis to some extent.”

Meanwhile, two other new feeder vessels of Everbest Logistics Ltd, named Minion and Contship Lex, also got the port’s approval.

Gias Uddin Ahmed, assistant manager of the company said these vessels will also be able to carry boxes in the route within a week.

The four new vessels will be able to carry a total of 5,000TEU at a time, thus container backlog may lessen gradually, according to port officials.

At a meeting this week, the port authority decided to give permission immediately after any company submits an application to ply feeder vessel in Chittagong-Colombo route. Additionally, applications seeking permission to start a new feeder service in Chittagong-Singapore route will also be processed without delay.

The decision is taken to meet the shortage of feeder capacity from Chittagong port which has been seriously hindering transportation of containers to and from Bangladesh.

At the meeting, the apparel exporters discussed that buyers are placing increased volume of bookings to Maersk over their capacity which is causing congestion at depots. The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) will raise the issue to the Buyers Forum for taking the facts into consideration.

Sharar Nayel
Bangladesh Correspondent