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Chittagong Port plagued by long queues of vessels

Long queues of berth-seeking container vessels at the outer anchorage continue to plague the lone major port of Bangladesh Chittagong port although the authorities took several steps in July to ease the congestion, including limiting time of stay at the port for loading and unloading.

The congestion appeared mid May when the daily average of waiting vessels stood at 12. This rose to 16 in June and was 15 the next two months. Recently the waiting period touched a record 18 days according to Bangladesh media reports.

Shipping agents say the average waiting time was 3-4 days last month and 4-6 the last few weeks.  Several Vessels got berthing permission after waiting six days on September 13.

According to local agent, the vessel operator has to bear over 10,000 US Dollars in demurrage every day for the wait.

As per the Port newly laid guidelines gearless vessels (without cranes) are allowed to stay at berth for 48 hours and geared vessels needing to load and unload up to 1,400 containers 60 hours.

Geared vessels loading and unloading a higher number of containers were allowed to stay at the port for 72 hours. The increasing queue of ships waiting for berths following Eid prompted a 12 hour reduction for vessels to 60 hours.

Shipping operators said they may incur losses as vessels were unable to take enough containers within the timeframe. Shipping agents put the blame on the inadequate number of container jetties, now 12.

A spokesman of the Chittagong Port Authority said they enforced the post-Eid timeframe temporarily and hoped that the situation would improve soon.

Meanwhile the port authority has laid the foundation for a new container terminal capable of handling 4.5 million Teus a year. To be constructed at a cost of 180 million US dollars, the terminal will have three 200 meter length quay to cater to increased volume of trade done by the port of late.

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