The addition of a number of equipment, including four quay gantry cranes, to the existing ones at Chattogram port has enhanced the port's efficiency in handling containers to and from vessels, significantly reducing ship waiting time and berthing time.
In fiscal 2021-22, a container ship had to wait 2.24 days at the outer anchorage to arrive at the port jetty with imported goods. And after berthing at the jetty, it took another three days to unload the import goods from and load export goods into the ship.
Now ships can berth at the jetty as soon as they arrive at the outer anchorage, while it takes just two days for unloading the import containers and loading export goods after a ship berths at the jetty.
According to information obtained from the port authorities, in the past 15 days, only one container ship was waiting at the outer anchorage for berthing at the port on three days each. For the remaining 12 days, all container ships could directly go to the designated jetties to unload import goods. During the same period, a bulk cargo or open cargo vessel had to wait at the outer anchorage on four days each.
On Monday afternoon, the Chittagong Port Authority told The Business Standard that there is no ship waiting at the outer anchorage and that ships are getting berthing on arrival.
Md Omar Faruk, secretary of the Chittagong Port Authority, told TBS that the addition of the new equipment has given an impetus to the yard management system at the port alongside boosting its container handling capacity. The container storage space in the port yard has increased from 49,018 TEUs to 53,518 TEUs, he added.
While the number of ships arriving at the port is still normal, the volume of imports has marked a decline in recent times for various reasons, including the Russia-Ukraine war, dollar shortages, a hike in LC margin, and a tightening of imports of luxury goods.
Data provided by Chattogram port show that in June this year, the country's premier seaport handled about 1.30 lakh twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of containers, which came down to less than 1.14 lakh in July.
But there has been an increase in the number of ships arriving at the port, with 342 vessels reaching the port in July as compared to 338 a month earlier.
In June and July last year, the number of ships arriving at the port was 305 and 291, respectively.
In 2021, 4,231 ships arrived at Chattogram port and the number of containers handled stood at 32,55,358.
The capacity boost
According to Chattogram port data, 16 machines were added to the port in the three months beginning in May this year for container handling, which include four quay gantry cranes, six rubber-tyred gantry cranes, two mobile cranes with 100-tonne capacity, two mobile cranes with 50-tonne capacity, and two container movers.
Another 19 pieces of equipment are set to arrive by December this year.
Quay gantry cranes are the main equipment for loading and unloading containers to and from ships. With the addition of four new ones, the port now has 18 quay gantry cranes. And the number of rubber-tyred gantry cranes is 49.
Chattogram port has three terminals for cargo handling – General Cargo Berth (GCB), Chattogram Container Terminal (CCT), and New Mooring Container Terminal (CCT). The three terminals have 19 jetties, of which 13 are container jetties and six are for general cargo.
Syed Mohammad Arif, chairman of the Bangladesh Shipping Agents Association, told TBS that if a ship stays in the port for one extra day, the shipping agent concerned had to pay demurrage of $10,000-15,000 for the ship's rent, but now shipping agents no longer have to pay this demurrage as waiting time has been reduced.
This will have a positive impact on the prices of imported goods, he added.
Containerised imported goods arrive at Chattogram port through China and transshipment ports such as Singapore, Colombo, Port Klang, Tanjung Pelepas.
Shippers told TBS that stocks of imported goods at transshipment ports have decreased.
Karnaphuli Group's HR Line operates six container feeder vessels, including four on the Chattogram-Colombo route and two on the Singapore-Port Klang route. The company carries an average of 1,500 TEUs of import goods per ship from these transshipment ports, but booking per ship earlier used to be around 2,000 TEUs. Now the volume of bookings has come down to 1500 TEUs per ship.
Anis Ud Daula, senior executive director of HR Line, said the volume of import containers carried by ships has decreased by 10% recently.