Garment and knitwear exporters have requested the government to take steps to settle the deepening container crisis and squeezed capacity in vessels.
They held a meeting with the inland depot owners, shipping agents and freight forwarders Tuesday, and said they will meet state minister for shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury Wednesday.
"Export cargoes pile up at Chattogram port, but there are no empty containers. In many cases, if the containers are available, there are vessel crisis," Mohammad Hatem, the first vice-president of the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), told The Business Standard after the meeting.
Feeder vessels carry export cargoes from Chattogram to mother vessels anchored at Singapore, Colombo and other ports. From the ports, the shipping lines send the exports to Western markets.
But the pandemic-led loading-unloading delays have prompted a severe empty container and vessel crisis across the globe.
Mohammad Hatem said, "If the berthing capacity of the Chattogram port can be increased to 12 from current 10, the overall export capacity of the port will ramp up 20%."
Hundreds of trucks with exporting goods queue up in front of Inland Container Depots ( ICDs) as the apparel exporters worry about whether they would be able to ship products on time.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) President Faruque Hassan presided over the meeting on Tuesday while BGMEA Vice President Md. Shahidullah Azim, Vice President (Finance) Khandoker Rafiqul Islam, Vice President Md. Nasir Uddin, Directors Md. Mohiuddin Rubel, Asif Ibrahim, Abdullah Hil Rakib, Haroon Ar Rashid and Rajiv Chowdhury took part in the meeting held at BGMEA office in Dhaka today.
First Vice President of BGMEA Syed Nazrul Islam and Vice President Rakibul Alam Chowdhury also attended the meeting virtually.
President of Bangladesh Freight Forwarders Association (BFFA) Kabir Ahmed, First Vice President of Bangladesh Inland Container Depots Association (BICDA) Jowher Rizvi, First Vice President of BKMEA Mohammad Hatem, Director of Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA) Syed Nurul Islam, Director of Leathergoods and Footwear Manufacturers & Exporters Association of Bangladesh (LFMEAB) Ziaur Rahman, President of Bangladesh Garments Accessories & Packaging Manufacturers & Exporters Association (BGAPMEA) Md. Abdul Kader and Chairman of Bangladesh.
Terry Towel & Linen Manufacturers & Exporters Association (BTTLMEA) M Shahadat Hossain were present at the meeting.
Shortage of empty containers and vessels and congestion at regional transhipment ports have led to severe crisis, hindering shipment of export cargoes to Europe and the USA.
Besides, empty container vessels are taking time to return to Bangladesh from the European and US ports due to slow unloading there, causing container and vessel shortage in the Chattagram port.
In the meeting they decided to work together and seek the government's intervention in the following issues to address the problem:
They urged to direct authorities concerned not to increase any charges fixed by freight forwarders/shipping lines during Covid period.
The leaders requested the port authority to allow more feeder vessels to berth at the port to address the container and vessel shortage.
They also demand to arrange an export yard on temporary basis to facilitate loading-unloading of cargoes at the private inland container depots (ICDs).