Chittagong Port to remain operational on Saturdays


Shipping activities in the ChittagongPort will remain operational on Saturdays with immediate effect, port official said on Thursday.

The decision came in response to demands made by the trade bodies to improve the present deteriorating cargo handling situation at the country's main sea port.

Discord among Chittagong Port Authority Berth Operators and the Stevedoring Association leading to legal battle has created unwanted delays in cargo handling port.

The ships stay in the port involves now a longer time for loading and unloading because of delays in cargo handling. Exporters, importers and consumers have to bear demurrage for this.

ChittagongPort handles about 80 per cent of the country's export and import, and the operations of this port are considered as essential service.

According to sources, the efficiency of
ChittagongPort had improved significantly during the last caretaker government following a number of measures taken by it. The average turn around time for feeder vessels at ChittagongPort, was 10 days in early 2007. It came down to three or four days in early 2010.

The average turn around time has increased to more than 15 days after the cargo handling operations were taken away by the CPA from the private sector operator over a writ petition filed by the Stevedoring Association in the last week of April 2010.

The CPA has been handling the cargo since then with inefficient, outdated and inadequate equipment even after the ruling from a higher court that stayed the writ against the private berth operator for four months.

Sources suggest that the operations of gantry cranes and other modern and efficient equipment for cargo handling, owned by private operators, should immediately be restored. This will help avoid imposition of any congestion surcharge, they feel.

The concerned circle have stressed the need for the selection of the competent private sector operators for different port services through a transparent procedure.

Meanwhile, the CPA has decided to keep their jetty-customs operations running on Saturdays as special arrangement to facilitate RMG exporters with their shipment document processing in view of the congestion problem.

To overcome this, the BGMEA authority on behalf of RMG makers and exporters had requested the Chittagong Port Authority to keep their activities running on one of the two weekly holidays as well.
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