The Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) has demanded the withdrawal of "excessive" and "arbitrary" container detention charges being imposed on importers by some foreign shipping lines by defying a government order.
Besides, the shipping lines should also abstain from imposing any new or additional charges during the ongoing lockdown period, it has also pleaded.
These unregulated charges increase the price of imported raw materials used for manufacturing export items, a DCCI press release said on Saturday.
It results in downgrading cost competitiveness of the country's export-oriented sectors as well as inflates the prices of imported products for local consumers, the release added.
The business organisation also said the Chattogram Port Authority, being empowered by the Port Ordinance 1976, should look into the issue and take necessary measures against responsible shipping lines if they breach any of the government directives.
In the wake of the current challenging business situation induced by the coronavirus, the Department of Shipping issued a circular on April 29 last, directing the shipping lines not to realise container detention charges during the lockdown period.
But shipping lines are imposing the charges, putting a huge burden on importers in this critical time, according to the release.
Around the world, India and New Zealand have already asked their shipping lines not to collect any detention charge from import and export shipments and they have been complying with the order too.
So, private ICDs/off-dock operators in Bangladesh should also waive the empty container handling charges and export goods stuffing package charges during this lockdown period, said the release.
The business organisation also said that a specific ceiling is necessary for maximum demurrage charges/container detention charges as, sometimes, cumulative demurrage charges exceed the consignment value.
Moreover, there should be a uniform policy, governing rational and logical detention charges on import and export shipment by foreign shipping lines.
In this context, section 76 of the Bangladesh Merchant Shipping Ordinance 1983 may be reinstated which would help to curb imposing arbitrary fees on the importers by the shipping lines.
As businesses are suffering an unprecedented crisis, Chattogram Port needs to reduce the different port using charges, including all types of crane charges, loading and discharging containers, stuffing and un-stuffing charges, the release added.