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Gas Crisis Delays Production at 350 Factories in Bangladesh

Bangladesh has been facing a shortage of gas for the last month and that lack has led to hampered production in more than 350 factories in Gazipur, Ashulia, Savar and Kashimpur—where the bulk of the country’s apparel factories are located.

“Even a few days ago we have discussed the gas crisis issue with the government high-ups,” The Daily Star reported Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) president Siddiqur Rahman as saying at a press conference Friday. “They assured us that they will normalize the gas supply to this industrial belt as soon as possible, but it is not resolved yet.”

The insufficient gas supply turned into a crisis after two wells in the Shahjibazar Gas Field were damaged, according to local reports in The Daily Star. Now, factories are facing daily losses, delivery delays and more air shipments just to try to keep to promised lead times.

Bangladesh has been facing ongoing gas shortage issues in recent years and has faced government-led interruptions of the gas supply. An article in The Daily Star last year said transport workers stopped supplying fuel to the country’s plants, which led power generation to plummet, leading to the load shedding despite the fact that Bangladesh has enough power generation and supply capacity to meet demand.

The other problem, beyond the gas supply, is a port that’s ill-equipped to handle the influx of apparel product moving around the country.

According to Rahman, the number of trucks traveling to and from the Chittagong port has been increasing 17 percent to 18 percent each year, though the port’s capacity has remained the same for the last 40 years.

What’s more, the number of jetties at the Chittagong port was slated to increase to 60 but still currently stands at 7, which, naturally, has led to problems with cargo management and on-time deliveries. As Rahman noted, importers and exporters are falling behind in lead time by 10 to 15 days compared to what their competitor countries can do. On top of that, traffic congestion is severe, and it’s not uncommon to spend three hours driving fewer than 10 miles. That time spent in traffic not only sets back shipments, but hinders worker productivity.

The present gas crisis is expected to be corrected in short order, though there’s no telling quite how short that will be or if the correction will provide enough fuel and power supply to get factories back on time with their deliveries.