Bangladesh Shipping Agents Association (BSAA) has requested the private inland container depots (ICD) to cancel the 23% spiked container handling charges that came into effect following the recent diesel price hike.
"The hike in container handling charges has created serious repercussions," BSAA told Bangladesh Inland Container Depots Association (Bicda) in a letter on Wednesday.
"The shipping lines, apparel sectors and other users of the depots are directly contributing to the country's revenue earning and playing a vital role in foreign trade. In this process, both BSAA and Bicda are complementary to each other and collectively contribute to the foreign trades of the country," the letter reads.
In the letter, the association termed the Bicda circular on raising cargo handling charges a violation of section-11.1 and 11.2 of the ICD/IFS (container freight station) regulation.
The BSAA also cited, "ICD charges must be fixed as per section-11.1 and 11.2 of the Private ICD/CFS Regulations, 2016 of Chittagong Port Authority."
"As per the section 11.2 of ICD policy and international regulation, the shipping ministry will form a committee to fix all off-dock tariffs. Representatives from National Board of Revenue, CPA, ICD/CFS and users of private ICD/CFS will be in the committee. The committee will fix the tariff which will come into effect after the shipping ministry's approval." it added.
The letter also states that ignoring stakeholders' importance and without any discussion, Bicda has hiked 23% tariff which is purely a monopolistic step and a big blow to the relationship that is built since long with the stakeholders especially with the shipping lines.
"Each and every MLO agent has agreed service & tariff respective off-dock for a certain period. So, there is no scope to review service charges by any party within the contract period without bilateral discussion. Bicda circular is not acceptable to our agent members and their principal offices," it added.
"According to common practice, without a reasonable period reviewing any service charges is completely illogical and unacceptable."
"We -- Bsaa & Bicda -- are not competitors, rather we both are complementary to each other in protecting mutual trade interests. So, we cannot disagree about tariff enhancement of depot services on the basis of fuel price increase, but that could be done through discussion and facts and figures giving no room for misunderstanding and unpleasant situations in between," the letter also reads
The shipping agents association said "We are eager to sit together and exchange our views related to the issue and see what best options left for us to work together for betterment of the trade."
Earlier, Bicda increased container handling and transport charges by Tk2,089-Tk2,605, citing increase in other export-import costs following the recent fuel price hike.
As per the new tariffs, the transport charge for a 20-foot container (between the port and depot) has been increased to Tk1,415 from Tk1,150. Haulage charge for a 40-foot container has been hiked from Tk2,300 to Tk2,830.
After that Bangladesh Freight Forwarder Association and the BGMEA have termed the move "illogical" as it will exponentially increase import-export costs.
Syed Nazrul Islam, first vice-president of BGMEA in the letter sent to BICDA on 10 November, said the "illogical" and "anti-business" move will be a fresh blow to the country's apparel export. "The hike in container handling charges was unilateral since there had been no discussion with the stakeholders."
The abrupt hike in cargo handling charges puts them in trouble in delivering the remaining orders to foreign buyers, he added.
In reply to that Bicda President Nurul Qayyum Khan said with the 23% hikes, they have adjusted the spiraled diesel and off-dock operational costs.
"This is not merely a container handling hike, rather a required adjustment in the face of diesel hikes. All the container handling segments are diesel-run. We cannot run the ICDs with subsidies," he added.