Transport strike stalls Chattogram port, delays shipments

The ongoing transport strike over a fuel price hike has suspended the movement of containers in and out of Chattogram port, delaying shipments.

Published : 6 Nov 2021, 02:09 PM
Updated : 6 Nov 2021, 02:09 PM

The nationwide strike continued for the second day on Saturday after the government raised diesel and kerosene prices by 23 percent citing volatility in global prices.    

Exporters and importers say the additional cost of business due to the strike will ultimately pass on to the consumers. No trucks or lorries entered or left the port during the strike.  

“No containers have been delivered or brought to the port from private depots. We may face a container logjam if the strike continues,” said Omor Faruk, secretary of Chattogram Port Authority.

Covered vans are parked at Tejgaon Truck Stand in Dhaka amid a transport strike over a fuel price hike on Friday, Nov 5, 2021. Photo: Asif Mahmud Ove

The port has the capacity to keep 49,000 20-foot containers. On Saturday, it had about 36,000 containers waiting to be delivered or shipped. The port handles about 8,000 containers a day.  

An official said several ships are waiting for goods to be exported, so the businesses will have to pay them extra. At the jetties, 16 ships have been anchored -- nine of them with containers, two with clinkers, and two with food. Lighter vessels are transporting goods to and from 44 mother vessels at the outer anchorage.

The ships’ average time of stay will increase if the strike continues, said Faruk.

Ruhul Amin Sikder, secretary of Bangladesh Inland Container Depots Association, said the number of containers that are moved to the port from the 19 depots in the city daily is general 4,500 to 5,000. The depots have a total capacity of keeping 78,700 containers. They had about 52,000 containers on Saturday.

“In these circumstances, the situation may remain unchanged for three to four days, but if it does not improve, a container logjam will be created at the port,” said Ruhul.

Nazrul Islam, first vice-president of garment exporters’ group BGMEA, said the ships will go back empty or wait at the port if the ordered goods cannot be transported in time. “Duty will go up if the ships wait longer.”

“We have been recovering from the losses due to the coronavirus crisis. The Chattogram port’s goodwill was also increasing. A transport strike in these circumstances will be suicidal,” he said, urging the authorities to sit with the transport owners and workers for a quick way out of the crisis. Garment accounts for over 80 percent of Bangladesh’s exports.

“Businesses will have to pay additional fees for the waiting ships. Naturally, it will impact the consumers,” said Mahbubul Alam, president of Chattogram Chamber of Commerce and Industry.