- Transport fare nearly doubled in a month
- Affecting import-goods transportation across the country
- Production and supply chains disrupted
- Truck owners preferring lighter goods, causing congestion of good-laden containers
Transportation of import-goods is hindered at Benapole, the biggest land port in the country, due to a crisis of trucks and excessive fare increases.
With increased imports from India in recent days the transportation dilemma has morphed into a crisis for importers, transport agents and C&F agencies. They are facing difficulty in transporting imported goods to designated destinations across the country on time, which is hampering the production and supply chains of various industries.
Sources say the oil-price hike triggered a price increase of tires, other parts, and ferry fares, leading to a sudden jump in truck transport fares.
As imports of lightweight goods, including cotton and raw material for export-oriented industries have increased in recent days, truck owners and workers have shown more interest in transporting these items over other imported goods, according to people associated with imports and exports.
Stating reasons for this inclination towards lightweight goods, transport people say they get more fare for transporting these goods and the transport vehicle is saved from taking heavy loads, which also allows the trucks to reach their destination faster.
Transporting light goods also cuts waiting time at ferry terminals, according to them.
Azim Uddin Gazi, general secretary of the Benapole Transport Agency Owners Association, said fares for transporting goods across the country from Benapole port have nearly doubled in a month.
"Oil price hike, increased ferry fare and toll collection, long traffic jams at the ferry terminal and non-availability of goods on return journey from Dhaka, have led transport owners to suddenly increase truck fares, which in turn has caused the crisis," said Azim Uddin.
"Minimum truck fare for transporting goods from Benapole to different parts of Dhaka used to range from Tk 20,000 – Tk 24,000, which has increased to Tk 30,000 - Tk32,000. Similarly, the rent of a covered van has increased from Tk 25,000 - Tk 35,000, " said Atiquzzaman Sony, president of Benapole Transport Owners' Association.
"To add to the hassle of importers, the number of available trucks and covered vans is not sufficient and transporting goods from Benapole port to other parts of the country is becoming increasingly difficult," he added.
Importer Iqbal Ahmed of Talukder Traders in the capital's Nawabpur area said all his chemicals are imported from India.
On 15 November a consignment for his company arrived at Benapole port but he is yet to transport the goods to his factory due to extremely high truck fares.
Another, importer, Faizur Rahman of Rose Trading in Keraniganj, is facing a similar predicament. He said, "If we transport imported printing ink with additional truck fare, it will cut into invested capital, let alone make profit out of it."
Biplob Saha, commercial manager of Quality Can Industries of Narayanganj's Vulta, Rupganj said one of their inbound consignments is also stuck at Benapole port and is hurting their business badly.
"Our factory is on the verge of shutting down due to lack of raw materials as we couldn't bring in the necessary imports due to high truck fares and a transport crisis.
Abdul Latif, joint secretary of the Benapole Importers and Exporters Association, said that traders import goods in the hope of making a profit but the cost of transportation has increased so much that they are having to incur losses.
"Fearing that the raw material will be spoiled, some importers are forced to release the goods with extra transport fares," he added
Abdur Rashid, joint commissioner of Benapole Customs, said the current import rate has increased significantly.
Currently, 350-400 import trucks arrive at Benapole every day from what used to be 150-200 trucks before the pandemic situation improved.
"This has pushed up the demand for trucks and covered vans," Mr Rashid said.