The Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) in Bangladesh, is empowered to auction containers loaded with goods within 45 days from the date of disembarkation. The CPA then hands over these containers to the customs department, which is responsible for auctioning and disposing of rotten or expired goods.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic hit last year, shipping companies have suffered from lack of equipment. Bangladesh’s export market has been particularly hurt by the lack of 40-foot high cube containers.
Shipping lines have tried to manage the shortage by importing empty containers, which has led to higher costs.
With today’s move, Yang Ming Marine Transport will receive 163 containers, MSC 60, Maersk 22 and Continental Trades 19.
Mohammad Ahsanuzzaman, associate director of Transmarine Logistics, Yang Ming’s local agent, said the initiative to get rid of inactive or rotten cargo is a big relief for shippers operating in Bangladesh.
“Inaction by consignees to take over imported cargo not only hurts shippers, but [they] occupy the most valuable yard spaces, putting pressure on space management during peak seasons,” he said.
“Some containers go back so many years that they eventually become unusable, which is a total loss for shippers, even after the cargo is destroyed.
“But the return of [working] units to fleets will certainly benefit shippers who have been suffering equipment shortages across Asia for half a year,” he told.
A senior CPA official said the removal of rotten and obsolete cargo from containers had been delayed due to various factors.
But while exporters may be glad to know that there are more containers in the system, the new closure regulations could affect the country’s production, with rules stating that factories can only operate with half the normal workforce.
Production of manufacturing units is likely to be severely hampered. Garment makers fear huge disruptions and economic losses.
“We urge the government to keep the export-oriented industry out of the latest directives,” said Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association first vice president Mohammad Hatem.
“Employing half the workers will have serious consequences for the industry and the economy,” Hatem added.
Some 5,181 new cases of Covid-19 were detected on Monday, the highest number in Bangladesh to date. Some 45 people died that day.