Private inland container depots (ICDs) are now overburdened as businesses started sending export containers seven to eight days before the scheduled shipments to avoid being affected by the nine-day Eid-ul-Azha vacation starting from today.
Nearly five days ago, they started sending export cargoes to the 19 ICDs, where 15,010 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of export containers found lying yesterday, up from around 8,000 TEUs any regular day, according to Bangladesh Inland Container Depots Association (Bicda).
At present, the ICDs have over 69,000 containers, including empty ones and those laden with export and import goods, though the combined accommodation capacity in paper is 65,000.
This has apparently slowed down daily delivery of import cargo from the ICDs, adding to the congestion.
According to Bicda, 1,000 to 1,100 TEUs of import cargo is usually delivered from the ICDs on a normal day but it came down to 820 on August 7; 888 on August 8 and 754 on August 09.
Till yesterday noon around 300 trucks carrying export goods from Dhaka and surrounding areas were in queue to enter the ICDs.
Some 90 percent of the country’s exports are stuffed into containers at the ICDs before being sent to Chattogram Port while the remaining goes to the Kamalapur ICD and different export processing zones.
To ensure that shipments are made timely on the eve of Eid, Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) is allowing export containers to arrive at the port three hours in advance of ship departure schedules.
The rule will remain effective till September 1.
Nasir Uddin Chowdhury, chairman of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association’s standing committee on port and shipping, said most garment factories would stay shut for eight to 10 days during Eid.
To ensure that shipments were made on time, they got their export cargo into the ICDs long before the vacation started, he said. Chattogram-based factories had sent their containers by August 6-7, said Chowdhury.
He alleged that many of their trucks had to wait for at least three days to get a scope at unloading the cargo as the ICDs had an insufficient number of labourers. The exporters also had to bear the extra cost of the trucks’ overstay.
This was confirmed by Bangladesh Freight Forwarders Association Director Khairul Alam Sujan. He said the ICDs should speed up loading of cargo into containers to avert shipment delays.
Secretary to Bicda Ruhul Amin Sikder said the ICDs were working round the clock to ensure shipments were made on time.
He said 35 percent of the export containers could leave on five vessels scheduled to depart on Saturday evening.