Chittagong Congestion Reaches Critical Level, Major Port Operators Welcomed

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To deal with serious growing congestion at Chittagong Port, Bangladesh has had no choice but to welcome major port operators to manage affairs.

Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) Chairman, Rear Admiral M Khaled Iqbal, confirms the country’s effort to increase port capacity. The nation, having nearly reached their total capacity allotment is reeling under the pressure of mounting congestion and is seeking measures to curb the same.

The present situation is critical as it has resulted in a decrease in port visits by ocean carriers and an increase in surcharges being imposed on imports. In a desperate move, the government has cleared the way for international firms to design, build, finance, operate and maintain new port terminals. According to the new arrangement, Chittagong will become a landlord and not engage in dock management. Admiral Iqbal stated that, “engaging globally established firms in the construction, operation and maintenance of new terminals will help reduce the port’s turnover period and increase handling capacity.”

In an initiative to decrease congestion, the government is geared up to approve additional Inland Container Depots (ICDs) and Inland Container Terminals (ICTs) in the private sector. According to the Financial Times, “ICDs facilitate quick clearance of FCL (full container load) cargo by allowing un-stuffing and delivery from outside the port area,” while “the private sector ICTs, mainly located close to Dhaka, help carry goods to seaports through waterways, reducing pressure on highways,”

Chittagong port is responsible for 92 percent of the country’s international trade including imports and exports, amounting to USD 77 billion annually. The CPA stated, “To help deal with the present congestion in Chittagong port, at least seven or eight more private ICDs are needed.”

Image courtesy portexpobangladesh.com