Importers and exporters have been complaining about the unavailability of containers and vessels at the Chattogram port for quite some time, but the port authority blames a lack of coordination among stakeholders for the problem.
In a press release on Thursday, the authority pointed out that the majority of Main Line Operators (MLOs) and Feeder Vessel Operators have no common carrier agreements or container direct interchange deals, which is hampering smooth transportation of exportable goods.
The Chattogram port – with the goal to improve the overall process of goods transportation – has issued a 7-point proposal for stakeholders, including a recommendation for utilising any port in China that is convenient for exporters.
At present, feeder vessels initially transport Bangladesh's export goods to Singapore port, Sri Lanka's Colombo and Malaysia's Port Klang. From there, mother vessels carry the goods to their destinations – including the USA and Europe.
The berthing delay of a vessel at Chattogram port's outer anchorage is around 2-3 days, while ships visiting the ports of Singapore, Sri Lanka and Malaysia face a delay of 8-10 days. Bangladesh rarely utilises Chinese ports to transport goods to another country, insiders said.
The buyers currently set the MLOs and feeder vessels while taking delivery of their products, the port authority said, adding that a more flexible option for transporting goods in container ships will help the export process go more smoothly.
"To resolve this issue, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and other exporters should discuss the matter with their buyers and take steps accordingly. Removing the monopoly would further ease the export process," the release said.
The port authority also proposed that the MLOs effectively utilise Container Direct Exchange, and make Common Carrier Agreements with Feeder Vessel Operators.
Speaking in favour of boosting coordination between all stakeholders, the port authority also proposed that the Bangladesh high commissioners in Singapore and Sri Lanka could play a larger role in boosting the transportation process of export goods through those ports.