Container delivery from Chattagram port was very poor although the country's main seaport remained fully active during the Eid holidays, show data.
The port authorities held a meeting with their stakeholders and even issued a notification in this regard but apparently to no avail.
Usually, 4,500-5,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) of containers are delivered daily on average. The number comes down to between zero and 1,000 during the Eid holidays.
As importers did not receive deliveries, 6,927 TEUs of containers accumulated in the port during the eight-day holiday. If delivery speed does not get back to the normal level, there will be container congestions in the port yard, according to port officials.
The Chattogram port yard has a container holding capacity of 49,018 TEUs. At normal times, about 35,000 containers remain in the port.
However, in order to keep operations normal, 15% space of capacity has to be left unused. As such, if there are 41,665 TEU containers in the port, it is considered normal. But the number of containers stood at 42,920 TEUs till 8am on 7 May.
The number of containers has already exceeded the normal number by 1,255 TEUs. About 88% of the space in the port yard has been filled with containers, which is 3% higher than usual.
Despite the reduction in delivery, loading of goods on ships was normal.
In a separate development, two Quayside Gantry Cranes (QGC) and three Rubber Tyred Gantry (RTG) cranes have been added to the fleet of Chittagong port for fast and safe handling of containers.
A ship carrying the equipment arrived at the port on Saturday, confirmed Omar Faruk, secretary to Chittagong Port Authority.
With the addition of these state-of-the-art gears, the container handling capacity of the country's main seaport is expected to increase further, he said.
According to information available with Chattogram port, 5,156 TEUs were delivered on April 29 when the number of containers in the yard was 35,993 TEUs. Since then, the number of deliveries has been declining. The following day delivery dropped to 3,305 TEUs.
A number of 2,972 TEUs was delivered on 1 May, 1,068 TEUs on 2 May, and 227 TEUs on 3 May.
No container delivery or handling took place on 4 April. The delivery was 705 TEUs on 5 April, 1,092 TEUs on 6 April, and 1,512 TEUs on 7 April.
Chattogram Port Authority Secretary Mohammad Omar Farooq said the volume of container deliveries would increase from Sunday. Hopefully, by this week the situation will be completely normal.
In a circular issued before the Eid vacation, the port authorities announced that during and after Eid-ul-Fitr, the port will be open 24/7.
In the circular, all importers, exporters, shipping agents, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), C&F agents, freight forwarding agents and the port's private stakeholders were requested to take delivery of their products during the Eid holidays.
Garment makers account for a large segment of imported container goods at Chattogram port. Regarding the non-delivery of goods during the Eid holidays like every year, factory owners said that their workers have to take more leave than usual during the Eid holidays. Therefore, it takes time to restart production. Moreover, employees of the warehouse were also on leave. As a result, factory owners take some time to unload goods from the port during the Eid holidays.
BGMEA Vice-president Rakibul Alam Chowdhury said, "Once factories open, we will need imported raw materials. So we need to take fast delivery of the products. Hopefully, no major complications will be created."
Meanwhile, delivery of imported goods to private ICDs like Chattogram port has been slow, although the shipment of export goods was normal, according to the Bangladesh Inland Container Depots Association (BICDA).
BICDA President Nurul Kaium Khan told TBS, "There is no congestion in ICDs. We, 17 off docks, have successfully unstuffed all export bound cargoes well planned better than in other years. We will send all export cargoes as soon as feeders are placed. Import delivery is slow both from ICDs and ports. But hopefully, all things will be smoother by Monday next.
"We could not operate from the afternoon of Eid day due to a shortage of operators," he added.
Thirty-eight kinds of products, such as food items, are delivered from ICDs. In addition, 100% of the exported goods are packed in ICD containers. Shipping is done from ICDs to the port's hook point (from where the goods are unloaded) according to ships' schedules.
As a matter of fact, 92% of the country's import and export trade is completed through the main seaport. About 98% of the containers engaged in transport in Bangladesh are from Chattogram port.