Releasing of imported goods, including wheat, dropped significantly in the Akhaura land port in Brahmanbaria and Benapole land port in Jashore on Saturday as transport companies demand higher fares following the overnight fuel price hike, a move that would ease the country's subsidy burden but put pressure on inflation.
Truck owners said they would incur losses if they transport goods at previous fares.
The import of wheat from India through Akhaura port resumed on 1 August after a halt of two months.
According to port authorities, only four trucks of wheat were released from the port on Saturday. Each truck carries around 25 tonnes of wheat while almost 900 tonnes of wheat are stuck in the port every day on average.
Md Rakib, a representative of JK Transport at the port, said Tk70 to Tk120 have to be added to the existing truck fares otherwise truck owners have to incur losses. A decision will be taken after the traders and transport owners discuss the issue.
The existing truck fare from Chattogram is Tk900, from Dhaka Tk650, from Cumilla Tk550 and from Brahmanbaria Sadar Tk310, he added.
Tarapad Das, a wheat importer from Tangail, said that the demand for wheat has increased due to the shortage of wheat in the market. So, the wheat has to be released quickly but transport owners are asking for higher fares.
"We had a double whammy as the import cost increased with the dollar being expensive and now the transport costs have risen. Transport owners have threatened of not transporting goods without additional fare," he added.
In this regard, Md Atikul Islam, assistant director of Akhaura land port, said port authorities have very little to do regarding truck fares. Importers and transport owners have to come to an agreement in this regard. The Bangladesh Road Transport Authority can talk to both parties and take necessary measures to solve the issue.
Trucks fares double at Benapole port
There has also been a deadlock in the movement of imported goods through the Benapole land port due to the sudden increase in fuel prices that lead to a shortage of trucks and abnormal increase in fares and many traders were unable to release the goods from the port even after customs clearance.
Earlier, the truck fare from Benapole to Dhaka was Tk18,000 to Tk22,000 taka, but the owners asked for Tk32,000 to Tk35,000 on Saturday.
Importer Iqbal Ahmed said a few of his consignments arrived at the port on 3 August. On Saturday, he wanted to release the goods but truck owners asked for Tk10,000 more and he could not release the goods.
Another importer Faizur Rahman said if he pays the additional fare he will incur huge losses, let alone make any profit.
Benapole Transport Agency Owners Association General Secretary Azim Uddin Gazi said fuel price hikes always lead to a hike in truck fares. News fares were taken from Saturday. Fuel worth at least Tk12,000 more will be required for each truck after the price hike.
Benapole Transport Owners Association President Atiquzzaman Sani said truck fare has been raised but trucks and covered vans are not easily available even at the raised fares.
Aminul Haque, vice president of the Benapole Import-Export Association, said that due to the fear of spoilage of raw materials, the traders are forced to release the goods by paying extra rent.