The Chattogram Port Authority (CPA) is going to make full use of the Electronic Delivery Order (EDO) system – already in place – at the country's main sea port on Tuesday.
The EDO will not only help stop fraud but also enable a day's delivery order process to be completed within just 5-10 minutes, which used to take a staggering 5-10 hours before.
Those concerned said the new system will check waste of time, money and labour.
"We are digitising the entire operation of the port gradually to speed up operations. The port's delivery operations will be fully digitised from 1 November," CPA Chairman Rear Admiral M Shahjahan told The Business Standard Sunday (30 October).
"People can complete all the work online without needing to physically come to the office. It will reduce working time while also ensuring that fraud and taking delivery orders through illegal transactions are stopped. The work-from-home concept can also be implemented," he said.
According to CPA information, 4,000-4,500 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of containers imported from different countries of the world are delivered to Chattogram port every day.
Since December last year, six shipping companies have been tasked with issuing EDOs on a trial basis.
The companies are MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company Bangladesh Limited, APL Bangladesh Pvt Limited, Maersk Bangladesh Limited, Continental Traders (Bd) Limited, Continental Traders, and Ocean International Limited.
The EDO system was made mandatory for all shipping companies from 1 April this year.
However, some shipping agents and freight forwards were still submitting delivery orders manually. The CPA held a meeting with stakeholders on 16 August to ensure 100% implementation of the EDO.
Those present at the meeting asked for two months to achieve the target, after which the CPA extended the deadline to 30 October, with the system set to go online from 1 November.
Under the earlier rules, clearing and forwarding (C&F) agents had to physically come to the shipping line office to take delivery orders after clearance from customs. Now, whenever an order is issued by a shipping line office, it will be forwarded to the port and C&F agents. After formalities at the shipping line office, the C&F agents can take delivery from the port.
According to the CPA, it has created a separate portal called Port Community System for the EDO system.
A C&F agent, on behalf of the importer, will apply for EDO by logging in to the portal after goods have landed at the port yard. The information will also be communicated to the shipping line and freight forwarder by the C&F agent. The shipping agent will then collect the fee and send it to the C&F agent and freight forwarder. Likewise, freight forwarders will collect their charges and upload that information to the portal.
Vice-President of Bangladesh Freight Forwarders Association Khairul Alam Sujan said shipping agents and freight forwarders used to manually apply for delivery of imported goods after customs clearance. The order had to be brought to the office concerned of the port. In the middle of this process, there was a chance for the delivery order to be forged. Since 100% EDO has been launched, there is no more opportunity to engage in fraudulent practices.
He also said this is a huge achievement, as a result of which the position of the Chattogram port will be raised in the international maritime world.
Chairman of Bangladesh Shipping Agent Association Saed Mohammad Arif said the lesser the involvement of people in the delivery process, the lesser will be the level of corruption. As the delivery process is being fully digitised, the scope of the country's import trade and port services has been enhanced.
About 8,000 trucks, covered vans and lorries enter the port every day to take delivery of goods. From 15 September last year, the port authority also digitised the vehicle entry fee collection.