The government of Bangladesh has formed a taskforce to take measures to immediately resolve the problems presently the shippers are facing in shipments of outbound containers from Chittagong.

The taskforce was formed at a meeting held on 7 July among shipping ministry officials, shippers and other stakeholders including the Chittagong Port Authority (CPA).

Representatives from the government, CPA, export and import bodies, freight forwarders, container depot association and other concerned stakeholders will men the taskforce.

At the meeting, CPA requested the shipping ministry to arrange “common carrier agreement” among shipping agents and main-line operators (MLOs), container interchange among the MLOs, not for providing cargo plan to inland container depots (ICDs) by freight forwarders at late hour, raising the number of ICD, and direct calling of ships to final destination avoiding congested transhipment ports.

The port authority said the arrangement may help to lower the export backlog of 14,000TEU of laden containers which are lying at the ICDs for a long period failing to be boarded to the vessels due to space crisis both in feeder and mother vessels.

The meeting was told that over 12,000 empty containers of 40-feet size are also lying at the depots but those cannot be used for shipment due to the absence of container interchange among the MLOs.

Presently many operators have huge export bookings but they are failing to make shipments due to the lack of 40-feet empty containers.

On the other hand, many operators have adequate empty containers, but they are failing to make shipments as they do not have services to Europe and America, and some operators do not have space at mother vessels at transhipment ports.

Another proposal came into discussion. Usually, buyers nominate a few MLOs to carry major portion of their export cargoes thus shippers need to depend on them to send their containers. If common carrier agreement is signed, shippers will be able to use alternative shipping lines instead of the designated ones which will also help optimum use of spaces of mother vessels.

Mohammed Abdullah Jahir, COO of Saif Maritime Ltd, said a common carrier agreement is being signed between MLOs and the feeder operators, which let the MLOs use any vessel of feeder operators when required.

He believes direct interchange (DI) depends on various factors, like surplus of equipment at place of loading, shortage of equipment at place of delivery, availability of leasing containers, feasibility of taking delivery of DI containers at place of loading, transit time or time of DI, etc.

“In that case, DI would be feasible or possible if both MLOs agree considering win-win situation,” noted Jahir.

Mohammad Ahsanuzzaman, Executive Director of Transmarine Logistics Ltd, the local agent of Yang Ming, said usually carriers do interchange of containers, free use or sub-lease, depending on requirement at various destinations.

“With most carriers have surplus containers in Europe and US, where Bangladesh shippers export most, free use or sub-leasing may not be a feasible solution at the time when almost all carriers suffer shortage of containers ex-Asia,” he said.

Also, based on data, one can observe, surplus belongs to regional carriers who may want their containers back in the Indian subcontinent or Far East region instead, according to Ahsanuzzaman.

Vy Khang Trading and Transportation (Container-news)

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