Parliamentary body for projecting real picture of Ctg port situation

Dhaka,  Mon,  25 September 2017
Published : 11 Aug 2017, 00:57:44

Parliamentary body for projecting real picture of Ctg port situation

BGMEA allegations not true, says CPA chief
FE Report

The parliamentary standing committee on the shipping ministry, in a recommendation on Thursday, asked the ministry to project the real picture of Chittagong port activities to counter 'false allegations the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) raised' recently.

In its 45th meeting, held at the parliament secretariat with Maj (retd) Rafiqul Islam in the chair, also suggested that a press conference be held in this regard, if necessary, to highlight the operational activities and efficiency of the Chittagong Port Authority (CPA).

On 01 August, the BGMEA alleged that the weak infrastructure scenario speaks a lot on why the port is failing time and again to facilitate the country's growing international trade.

It also claimed that Chittagong port has only four key gantry cranes, two of which are now out of order, whereas it needs 26. It requires 52 rubber tyred gantry cranes but has only 23 at the moment.

Only 87 container loading and unloading equipment are in operation at the country's largest port against the requirement of 299. The number of cargo handling equipment is 285 but should be 895.

The port facilitates 92 per cent of the country's exports and imports. But the equipment shortage is weighing in on exports and imports as port users are regularly facing delays in the shipment of goods.

Under the circumstances, the garment manufacturers and exporters have urged the government to take immediate measures to ease congestion at the port in order to help them maintain the strict lead time set by international retailers.

In the standing committee meeting, the committee members including the CPA chairman said  most of the allegations of the BGMEA are not true. The port activities and its efficiency are not getting due recognition, he said.  

But exporters, importers and industry insiders told the FE recently that the export-import activities are facing severe blow as feeder vessel operators have imposed additional surcharge as congestion in Chittagong port has mounted.

The operators have also limited the number of their voyages to the port.

A West African shipping company has informed the local counterparts that until the situation in Chittagong port returns to normal, it has no other choice but to restrict number of its trips to this destination.

Feeder vessel operators bound for Chittagong from Australia, Singapore and Colombo ports have imposed additional surcharge following the ongoing congestion in Chittagong port, they added.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister AMA Muhith announced on Monday the government's decision to make necessary financial allocation immediately for building the floating terminal in one-and-a-half-year time.

He said a floating terminal at the outer anchorage of Chittagong seaport will be built soon to facilitate container carrying to and from Pangaon Inland Container Terminal (PICT), as shipping jam incurs huge penalties.       

The latest government move is seen as part of efforts to make the PICT fully functional and thereby mitigate debilitating container congestion at the country's prime maritime port -- Chittagong Port -- which takes a toll on external trade and incurs penal surcharge.

The committee also recommended taking immediate steps to construct jetty and terminal and collect relevant equipments for proper management of the port.

It also suggested renaming of a station at St Martin island under Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) as 'St Martin Landing Station' or 'St Martin Offshore Landing Station'.

Meanwhile, it was found in the minutes of the earlier meeting that JS body on shipping ministry recommended taking action against the chief engineer and ship surveyor AKM Fakhrul Islam on the ground of allegations made against him.

Committee member M Abdul Latif recommended it at the meeting on August 11. But neither any departmental action was taken against him nor he was removed or made OSD after investigating the matter.

Defending him, shipping minister Shahjahan Khan at that time said that there are only four surveyors for 10,000 ship survey. Who will conduct the survey if anyone is suspended out of these four? asked Shahjahan Khan.

Committee chairman said if action was taken at that time, this kind of disgraceful situation would not have been created damaging the reputation of the ministry.
Editor : A.H.M Moazzem Hossain
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