The waiving of goods storing charge at Chattogram Port Authority (CPA) yard would not be extended after May 16, CPA chairman Commodore Abul Kalam Azad told BSS.
He said the importers did not unload their container laden goods properly from the port yard despite repeated warning.
Following the demand of different business communities, including BGMEA, BKMEA and Chattogram Chamber, the government waived the goods storing charge at the port yard for nearly two months till May 16.
But the importers did not unload their containers at the expected speed despite repeated requests, resulting in container congregation, the chairman said.
As per the demand of the business community, a total of 18,000 containers have already been sent to the offdock from port yard till today and now there are 43,000 containers at the port yard though its capacity is 50,000, he said.
The port chairman said the authority would be obliged to collect the storage penalty after May 16 if the containers were not unloaded within the stipulated time to ease the container congestion at the port.
Earlier, the importers urged the government to waive fines and storing charge as they couldn’t unload their goods from the port within the stipulated time for the coronavirus outbreak and other issues.
In order to maintain normalcy in the port, the Customs Department, banks, private container terminals, transport sector and some other public-private offices have to continue their activities, the chairman added.
Azad said all measures have been taken to keep the operational activities of the port normal ensuring necessary protection for the officers, port users and employees as per the directives of the government’s health department and the World Health Organization (WHO).
The port chairman called upon the concerned importers to unload their containers from the port yard for the greater interest of the country.
Talking to BSS Enamul Karim, director traffic of CPA, said there were 37 ships with 16 days turned around time in outer anchorage of CPA and 16 ships with eight days berthing time were in the jetties on April 14 last.
“Now there are 18 ships with eight-day turnaround time in outer anchorage and eight ships with four-day berthing time in port jetties due to effective steps taken by the port authority,” he added.
Currently, 3000 to 3500 containers were unloaded on an average from the port jetties every day which were 4000 earlier, the sources added.
The business community leaders said though 40 percent mills and factories have shut their respective productions, they still want to unload their containers from the yard. They could not complete the expected unloading for the shortage of customs manpower, they added.
Nasir Uddin, ex-vice president of Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), said the customs authority could not complete physical examine at 17 offdocks at a time due to shortage of their manpower though the business community also feels that keeping the port normal is important for economic activities of the country.
He demanded to the National Board of Revenue (NBR) to increase manpower for completing 100 percent physical examine of the containers at the offdocks.
President of Chattogram Chamber of Commerce and Industry Mahbubul Alam said small and medium traders in Chattogram do business worth around Taka 37,000 crore in the holy month of Ramadan. But, there is no chance of that business this year because of COVID-19. On the other hand, the shopping malls authorities also could not open their respective markets due to coronavirus.
However, the Chamber president urged the concern importers to take initiatives to unload containers from port yard for the greater interest of the country.
Faridul Alam, commissioner of Chattogram Customs House, told journalists that to deal with emergency exports and imports in the port, it will be necessary to keep open the customs activities fully.
The authority tried to continue to give the service with the existing manpower and equipments, he added.