Exporters with piles of export goods, which remained stuck for four straight days owing to the covered van and truck strike, are now scrambling for shipments on time – even at higher costs through air freights.
Apparel industry leaders say another cost burden in the form of air shipments now adds to rising expenses on inputs.
Besides, many factories are facing a shortage of raw materials on account of the supply chain disruption, they add.
Mohammad Hatem, owner of MB Knit Fashion Limited, said a Swedish buyer has already pressured them to send $0.23 million worth of goods through air freight that eats into 55% of an export item's price.
They also missed the shipment deadline of a US buyer and somehow managed to secure two more days for sending goods, he added.
Like it, to avoid order cancellation or an imposition of discounts on goods, many apparel exporters are being forced to resort to air freight for shipments.
Md Shahidullah Azim, vice-president at the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), said, "We will have to count a big loss as we have no option but to send goods through air freights, with the situation remaining unchanged."
Penalties for overstaying at ports also are adding to rising costs, Shahidullah added.
Generally, a ship has to pay $10,000 to $12,000 for a single day overstay at a port, depending on the size of a container, according to the port officials.
"We are now reaching out to different government agencies to reach a solution over the covered van and truck strike," he also said.
In the meantime, two ships on Monday had to leave for transshipment ports without 1,400 containers of export goods, according to sources at the Chattogram port.
Besides, three ships bound for Colombo port had to cancel their scheduled journeys as export boxes could not be loaded into the ships, they added.
About 10,720 twenty-foot equivalent units of containers remained stranded in the inland container depots waiting for shipping as vehicles did not enter the port owing to the strike.
Meanwhile, following a meeting with Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan on Monday night, covered van and truck owners postponed the strike and will sit with the BGMEA and the BKMEA in a day or two to fix fares, Mokbul Ahmed, president of Bangladesh Covered Van-Truck Prime Mover Goods Transport Owners' Association postponed, told TBS.
The government also withdrew the increased toll on Jamuna and Muktarpur bridges, he added.
Earlier, the truckers went on the strike on Friday, demanding withdrawal of increased fuel price, increased toll on Jamuna and Muktarpur bridges and tolls imposed by city corporations and municipalities.
The number of container handling on Monday dropped to 2,472 TUEs - less than half the number of 7,125 TEUs on 4 November.
The non-handling of containers for the last four days might lead to container congestion in coming days, according to the Chattogram Port Authority.
Md Omor Faruque, secretary to the Chattogram Port Authority, said there are now 3,431 more containers at the port, which is still usual. "We hope the port operation will normalise once the strike is cancelled."
Chowdhury Jafor Ahmed, secretary general at the Bangladesh Covered Van-Truck Prime Mover Goods Transport Owners' Association said the transport of goods across the country will remain closed indefinitely until the three-point demand is met.
Over 300 containers crammed at Mongla port
Over 300 export-bound containers are stuck at the Mongla port as the truck and covered-van owners maintain their stance and are reluctant to withdraw the transport strike until their 3-point demand, including the reversal of diesel price, is met.
Exporters, gravely concerned over the ongoing strike, say they will suffer big losses if the truck, lorry and cargo vans do not resume operation.
Meanwhile, the resumption of long-haul bus and launch services, after the government decided to increase fares of diesel-run buses, minibuses and launches on Sunday, alleviated the misery of the masses to some extent.
The transport strike has crippled the Mongla port, as there were no export-import activities at the port and no goods-laden export-bound transports arrived at the port for four straight days.
Meanwhile, Aminul Haque, vice-president of the Benapole Import-Export Association, said about 700 Indian trucks were stuck at the Benapole port due to the strike. The importers have to pay an extra Tk2,000 per day for each truck. Besides, About 8,000 trucks are stuck at Petrapol port in India.