With sheds jammed with imported goods, unstuffing of less-than-container load boxes at Chattogram port face a setback thanks to delayed deliveries.
The port has asked the importers, apparel and knitwear-makers, and other businessmen to take away their cargoes immediately. The Chittagong Port Authority said cargo delivery from the less-than-container load will continue even on weekly holidays.
Less-than-container load (LCL) is a shipping term used to describe container loads that are filled by multiple orders or goods. Smaller shipments that need to be sent economically and are less time-sensitive are sent on an LCL container.
In contrast, a full container load means a single container that is booked by the shipper exclusively for the transportation of their cargo only. The shipper does not have to share the container with cargo booked by other shippers.
Full container load can be delivered from the port easily, while LCL containers need to be opened at the port yard for physical inspection of the imported items by revenue officials. This requires a huge open space.
In a letter sent to businessmen recently, the port authority said some 1,570 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) of LCL boxes have been waiting for days to be unloaded, while another 1,000 TEUs are onboard ships waiting at outer anchorage.
According to the port authority, the slower delivery of cargo from container freight stations has caused serious disruption of day-to-day activities at the port, which handles 92% of its seaborne trade.
The port has designated 1,000 TEUs of storage capacity for LCL containers at 11 sheds. The sheds are one at Chattogram container terminal, one at New Mooring container terminal, one at overflow yard and eight at general cargo berth.
There is no storage charge up to four days after the container unloading. The store rent for the next seven days after the free time is Tk16.72 per tonne, Tk41.80 per tonne for the next seven days. The charge then spiralled to Tk66.88 per tonne.
As much as 40% of the imports are raw materials for the country's ready-made garment industry.
Apparel manufacturers said their LCL imports have surged in recent times, but the US buyers have reduced orders while some are delaying the deliveries. These have been resulting in delayed apparel raw material release from the port.
Shamsul Azam, director of the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), said he had a delivery deadline for 1 lakh pieces of women's wear to the US in May, but the foreign buyers delayed the delivery to September referring to slumping sales.
"The whole delivery process of LCL cargoes usually takes a bit long. Apart from buyers' delivery delays, many factories took time to resume production units after the long Eid holidays. This is another reason for the decline in LCL cargo deliveries," he told The Business Standard.
In the wake of sluggish LCL deliveries, the port authority in March threatened to quadruple the penalty on overstaying boxes and cargo, but backtracked on the decision in April.
The port can accommodate 49,018 TEUs of containers. Containers at the port yard were 40,586 TEUs until Sunday morning.