- Chattogram port was in operation during Eid holidays
- But all factories and warehouses were closed, so importers did not show up to take deliveries
- On the eve of Eid, delivery reduced by 90% compared to normal times
- Eid day saw no container delivered
Importers did not take delivery of containers from the Chattogram Port during the Eid holidays although the port authorities had made good preparations to ensure uninterrupted activities and kept the port open for the four-day holidays.
Consequently, the port yards are now crowded with stacks of containers, creating a huge congestion.
Holding special meetings with stakeholders, the port authorities had issued 13-point instructions to ensure uninterrupted port activities during the Eid holidays. But the number of deliveries decreased abnormally before Eid. On the eve of Eid, delivery of containers reduced by about 90% compared to normal times. On Eid day, no container was delivered.
Port officials said its readiness failed as the port related organisations remained closed and no importers showed up to take delivery of containers.
Importers and traders said all factories and warehouses remained closed during Eid holidays and if they took the deliveries, they would not have any place to keep the containers.
Chattogram Port Authority's Secretary Md Omar Faruq told The Business Standard that although the container delivery had become normal on Tuesday, 18 May.
He said 10 ships had unloaded containers at the port jetty till noon while 13 more ships were waiting at the outer anchorage for their turns.
Besides the port, containers of imported goods were not also delivered from private inland container depots (ICDs) during Eid holidays.
Ruhul Amin Sikder, secretary general of the Bangladesh Inland Container Depots Association (BICDA), said 19 private ICDs were fully operational during the Eid holidays upon instructions from the port authorities. But delivery stopped from the day before Eid and it did not become normal until Tuesday noon.
The private ICDs deliver 36 types of imported goods including consumer products and load containers with export products.
On Tuesday, there were 32,500 empty containers, 6,740 export containers and 7,000 containers of imported goods at the 19 ICDs, which have a capacity of 77,700 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent unit).
Port authorities said they had also requested the Custom House to provide adequate facilities, including staff, for delivery of containers carrying imported goods. Banks concerned were also requested to keep open their branches that handle import and export activities as well as the ATM booths inside the port.
Moreover, all stakeholders – representatives of Clearing & Forwarding agents, shipping agents, freight forwarding associations, berth operators, terminal operators, ship handling operators and Chattogram Chamber – had been asked to keep activities normal during Eid holidays.
According to Chattogram Port, container delivery is calculated from 8am to 8am the next day. On 12 May, 3,519 TEUs containers, and on 13 May, 3,650 TEUs containers were delivered. On 14 May, importers took delivery of only 481 TEUs containers.
No one came to take delivery during the eight-hour shift on Eid day. Import containers were not unloaded from ships during that time.
Chattogram port, which can deliver 49,018 TEUs, has to keep 15% of its capacity free for smooth operation. On 15 May, there were 36,990 TEUs containers in the port yard and it increased to 40,404 TEUs in the next 24 hours.
Syed Mohammad Arif, chairman of the Bangladesh Shipping Agents Association, said, "Many importers want to use the port yard as a warehouse during Eid holidays. So, this needs to be considered in order to get the benefit of continuing port activities during Eid."
Mahbubul Alam, president of the Chattogram Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said factories and warehouses were closed during Eid holidays and all employees were on leave. There was no opportunity to keep the factories and warehouses open.