The Chittagong Port Authority has taken steps to alleviate the congestion situation at Bangladesh’s top port, but no comprehensive plan is in the works to fix what has been a long-term logistical problem.
Container ships have had to wait nearly two weeks on average to call on the port since May due to poor weather conditions and equipment shortages, while the damage of two ship-to-shore cranes from a collision by a ship in late June have exacerbated to problem for freight operators and exporters.
The local port authority convened a meeting on Thursday with local port operators, shipping lines and agents to work out how to alleviate the traffic, according to various media reports.
Larger ships will now be allowed to call at night and more space will be allocated for containers at nearby yards, while the authority has said it will pressure customs to urgently clear cranes so that can be installed at the port.
The port authority maintained that the severe congestion could be over within two weeks, but the local shipping community has urged for more berths to be built at the port soon.
Shipping minister Shajahan Khan said this week he has called for a meeting on Monday with a cross section of port users to work on a solution.
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The port, via its two container terminals, handled 2.3 million TEU, or 20-foot equivalent units, last year, considerably above its 1.7 million TEU design capacity, according to a recent report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
“Unless such expansion is carried out and operation efficiency is improved, the port is likely to become a bottleneck to the international trade of Bangladesh,” ADB warned.
Port officials have said the high birthing rate has hindered the ability to dredge in order to begin expansion efforts.
Chittagong, which is a draft constrained river port, accounts for around 90 percent of the country’s international seaborne traffic.