Congestion Worsens at Chittagong Port

Severe congestion in Bangladesh’s prime seaport Chittagong has crippled loading and unloading,  the Journal of Commerce reports.

The container vessels are experiencing a delay of maximum 10-11 days in receiving berthing permission. The turnaround time or ships’ stay time at the port is also increasing, according to IHS Markit data. The congestion began to mount in April, when average time in port was 62.7 hours, and jumped in May to 67 hours. Each day an average of 15 to 20 box ships waits at the outer anchorage for unloading.

Stakeholders attribute the congestion largely to the lack of adequate infrastructure at the port.  No jetty has been constructed in the last nine years despite that the cargo and container handling has grown  16% to 17%  for the past few years.

The loss of nearly 2 meters (6.6 feet) in draft has only made matter worse. Six of the 13 jetties at the port are in the range of 6 to 7 meters, preventing ships with drafts of 8.5 meters, which commonly call the port, from berthing, and forcing them rely on just two jetties able to accommodate such ships.

Meanwhile, ocean carriers have been pushing congestion surcharges for Chittagong-bound container ships from Shenzhen, Shanghai, and Guangzhou by $50 to $275, according to port officials.

Shippers, facing a lead time crisis because of their inability to get raw materials off ships and into their factories, have been clamoring for government support.

Shipping minister Shajahan Khan this week promised that he and the government were doing all that it could, and has called for a July 24 meeting with a cross-section of port users to work on a solution.

RCL Agencies will continue to monitor the situation and provide further updates once available.