Slow delivery of goods has created space shortage at the Chattogram port and a long queue of vessels at the outer anchorage in the last few days.
At noon yesterday, about 20 container vessels were found waiting at the outer anchorage.
The Chattogram Port Authority (CPA) has stalled giving berths to the vessels since April 2 even though there are vacant jetties as it struggles to accommodate the new arrivals in the limited space.
It is now allowing just one or two new vessels to get berths every day and only 5 to 6 vessels are allotted to stay at the jetties when it has 11 jetties to accommodate 11 container vessels.
For instance, the vessel OEL Colombo arrived at the outer anchorage on April 3 but was yet to get berth as of yesterday.
The CPA has given permission to the ship to get berth on April 9, according to Md Ajmir Hossain Chowdhury, head of operations and logistics of the vessel's operating firm MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company Bangladesh.
The countrywide movement restriction since March 26 to control the spread of coronavirus has created a transport crisis that has slowed the delivery of import cargoes and caused acute container congestion inside the port yards.
The number of import-laden containers lying in different yards hit 44,191 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) yesterday morning against the room for 37,620 TEUs.
The condition is also worsening in the yards designated for reefer containers, which carry perishable goods like fruits, onion, garlic, ginger, fish and others.
As of yesterday, about 3,032 TEUs of reefer containers were lying at the port yards, against the capacity of 1,620 TEUs.
So acute is the space shortage that the CPA has started keeping some of the import containers at the car shed.
It has also started shifting some of the reefer containers to the under-construction overflow yard outside the port, said CPA Secretary Md Omar Faruk.
Moreover, the CPA on Sunday announced giving 100 per cent waiver on store rent for import containers that are removed from the port during the shutdown. But the measure also failed to ease the congestion.
Since March 26, the average daily delivery came down to only 1,500 TEUs from 4,911 TEUs previously.
If the situation does not improve by next week, the vessels' waiting time could exceed 10 days, said Muntasir Rubaiyat, head of operations of GBX Logistics, whose two vessels -- OEL Bangladesh and OEL Hind -- are now waiting for berths.