The government has taken a special initiative to waive the shipping charges to reduce the container congestions, created by the outbreak of Covid-19, at the ports and decrease losses of the businessmen.
The waiver will be available until May 5.
A letter has been issued from the shipping department to the port authorities and shipping agents, asking them to take necessary measures in this regard.
Earlier on April 27, the port authorities waived the demurrage charge until May 5 considering the losses caused by coronavirus. Under this facility, the traders now can release their goods without paying any fees.
The shipping department letter has asked to offer the shipping charge concession until May 5, and the concession should be adjusted from March 26, when the government announced nationwide general holidays.
On the other part, the traders say that they were unable to release their goods even after the withdrawal of the demurrage charge as all the customs offices were closed.
As they cannot get the release letter from the customs authorities for office closures, they have kept the goods at the ships. So, the shipping and demurrage charges have been added at their imported goods.
Mohammad Belal, executive member of Bangladesh Paper Merchant Association, told The Business Standard that he imported one and a half container paper and printing raw materials on March 20.
"I did not get the release letter as everything is closed. Now, Tk1.30 lakh port fee and Tk2.70 lakh shipping charge have been added. So, I cannot release the raw materials. It is necessary to remove the fees considering coronavirus situation," he said.
Because of limited scale activities of customs department and closure of all the government offices, the traders are in trouble.
As a result, the traders are in a crisis over paying the port demurrage and shipping agency charges. Considering this ground, the government has taken this initiative so that production and business operation continue smoothly in future.
Port and shipping demurrage charges are monetary fines. The fine is imposed when the imported container is not released as per the schedule.
The importers have to pay the charges if they do not release containers in six days of arrival.
From the fifth day of arrival, a 20-feet loaded container at Chattogram port has to pay $6 for a day. If the release is delayed by 20 days, then the charge is $12 for a day.
For shipping charges, if a ship - with capacity of carrying 20,000 tonnes of goods - stays at the maritime boundary for 30 days, an importer has to pay Tk17 lakh.
The rate may vary based on the duration.