Container ships must sail within 48 hours

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Chattogram Port Authority (CPA) has aggravated shipping agents, ordering that container ships, regardless of carrying capacity from today, must leave port jetties within 48 hours of completing unloading and container loading.

No ships arriving with less than 1,500 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) of loaded import containers will not be allowed to berth at the port’s piers, the APC said yesterday.

Currently, geared vessels, i.e. those with cranes on board, have 72 hours to complete the job while those without gears up to 48 hours.

The CPA’s decisions are “not workable”, leaders of the Bangladesh Shipping Agents Association (BSAA) have said while deciding to sit down with the port chairman this morning to discuss the matter.

CPA terminal officials verbally gave directions to shipping agents during a morning berthing meeting.

Shipping agents protested and sought to boycott the meeting but were dissuaded by BSAA leaders.

When contacted, the CPA secretary, Md Omar Faruk, said he was not aware of such a decision.

He said it could be a proposal from APC officials to shipping agents.

Sources said the APC is taking the decision to reduce ship congestion ahead of the upcoming Eid-ul-Azha.

Officials from different shipping agents said that if such decisions were imposed, most ships would be forced to leave loaded export containers behind and suffer huge losses.

A shipping agent official said it was possible for gearless ships arriving with 900 to 1,000 TEUs of loaded import containers to depart within that time frame.

But even if a gearless ship comes with more than 1,500 TEUs of containers loaded with imports, it will be difficult for it to complete the unloading and loading of containers within that time, he said.

And for gear ships, it was too difficult as these need a long time to unload loaded import containers due to a current shortage of space inside port yards, a- he declared.

Yesterday morning, 37,259 TEUs of containers loaded with goods were at the port, occupying more than 92% of the space provided for these containers.

The lack of space is hampering the smooth and timely unloading of loaded import containers from ships, shipping agents said.

When contacted, BSAA Chairman Syed Md Arif said the decision to limit dwell times at piers to 48 hours was not at all feasible.

If ships are forced to leave within the time limit, most will have to depart without taking the expected number of loaded export containers and will end up suffering a lot of financial losses, he said.

The CPA should not make such a decision suddenly without discussing the issue with stakeholders and giving time to adapt to the change, he said.

Regarding the size-based berthing restriction, Arif said ships usually arrive loaded with containers and if a ship is to carry more than 1,500 TEUs, its draft would be more than 10 meters.

The port cannot accommodate such levels of draft in its piers, he said.

He said they would pass the challenges on to the CPA chair during today’s meeting.

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