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Ctg port must speed up goods delivery: experts

The Chattogram port must fast-track the unloading of goods, install modern equipment, and improve service quality in order to cut congestion and facilitate Bangladesh’s fast-expanding global trade, speakers said today.

“The system of releasing goods from the Chittagong port is quite complex. We need to get out of this as soon as possible,” said Bangladesh Freight Forwarders Association Vice President Khairul Alam Sujan.

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He urged the customs authorities to extend support to this end.

He spoke at a roundtable titled “Development of Chittagong port with domestic investment” organised by the Daily Ittefaq at the National Press Club in Dhaka.

Mostafa Azad Chowdhury Babu, acting president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said the challenges facing the Chittagong port have intensified in keeping with the growth of the industrial sector of the country.

“Due to the continuous rise in the number of containers used to move export and import cargoes, additional time is being taken to release goods.”

He called vessel congestion a permanent feature and cited that Chittagong port is one of the ports in the world where releasing goods takes a higher time.

Businesses have to wait 11 days and six hours to have their cargo released after their arrival at seaports, including Chattogram port, according to the Time Release Study 2022 of the National Board of Revenue (NBR).

The Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, however, said businesses require longer than 11 days as the NBR still physically examines documents against shipments.

At the roundtable, State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury said the Chattogram Port Authority (CPA), the customs, and businessmen will have to work in a coordinated manner to reduce congestion.

Md Aynul Islam, general secretary of the Bangladesh Economic Association, said Chittagong port has geopolitical importance so there is a need to increase domestic investment.

“About Tk 1 lakh crore in revenue comes from the port. Therefore, the development of the port is necessary.”

CPA Chairman Rear Admiral Mohammad Shahjahan said the development of institutions associated with the port is also needed to develop it.

“There is a lot of scope for domestic and foreign investment in various areas of the port.”

Nurul Qayyum Khan, president of the Bangladesh Inland Container Depot Association, questioned why the Pangaon Terminal in Keraniganj of Dhaka was running at 25 per cent capacity whereas the Chattogram port faced container congestion now and often.

Sujan also said there was no scope to use old jetties for a long time.

“The sea level is rising due to climate change and tidal water enters the yard. The construction of the Bay Terminal will have to be accelerated. If the terminal does not open on time, the transportation of goods will be disrupted.”

He called for including the provision of setting up specialised jetties in the draft master plan since specialised industries are being set up in the country and heavy and special machinery is being imported.

The port handles 93 per cent of the country’s seaborne import and export cargoes and 98 per cent of containerised goods.

On average, 3.77 crore tonnes of bulk goods were handled every year from 2012-13 to 2016-17. It rose to 7 crore tonnes in the last fiscal year as the economy expanded.

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