DhakaTribune
Friday January 19, 2018 10:51 PM

Vessel workers’ strike may increase Chittagong port congestion

Vessel workers’ strike may increase Chittagong port congestion
Ships laden with containers wait at Chittagong portDHAKA TRIBUNE

BVWF has made the announcement of the strike at a press conference at National Press Club on July 15

A vessel workers’ union has announced a countrywide strike for an indefinite period from July 24 which is likely to worsen the recent congestion of vessels at Chittagong port.

Bangladesh Vessel Workers’ Federation (BVWF) made the announcement at a press conference at National Press Club on July 15.

“We have been compelled to go for the strike as our 21-point demands were ignored. The strike will continue for an indefinite period until our demands are fulfilled,” said BVWF Joint Secretary Khorshed Alam, adding that all types of vessels except for fishing trawlers would fall under the purview of the strike.

Their demands include lifting the restriction imposed on plying 53 decade-old oil tankers, immediate release of 16 vessel workers who are languishing in Indian and Bangladeshi jails and stopping the corrupt practices of the Directorate General of Shipping.

The cargo handling operations at the outer anchorage of Chittagong port will remain suspended during the strike as 1400 lighter vessels of Chittagong region are affiliated with BVWF.

Meanwhile, Chittagong Chamber of Commerce & Industry (CCCI) urged BVWF to withdraw the strike.

Expressing grave concern over the countrywide waterways strike, Mahbubul Alam, president of the CCCI, issued an urgent statement to the media on Thursday.

In the statement, the trade body leader apprehended that the strike would take a heavy toll on the countrywide supply-chain of essentials, raw materials for industries and food items.

“Due to the recent backlog of ships at the outer anchorage of Chittagong port, the unloading operations are being delayed for 15-20 days. As a result, the cost of importing goods is rising substantially. The strike will also disrupt the operations of other sea and river ports of the country. The economy of the country will pay a heavy price for this embargo,” said Mahbubul.

Currently due to backlog, container vessels experiencing a delay of maximum 10-11 days in receiving berthing permission are also lengthening the turnaround time or ships’ stay time at Chittagong port.

The average stay time for a container vessel for getting schedule of berthing in the jetties is supposed be around one or two days under normal circumstances.

The turnaround time, a port-efficiency index, begins from the time a vessel arrives at Chittagong port till it sails out after discharging imported goods and loading exports.

To recoup the astronomical losses, the shipping companies have already raised freight charges of container vessels which are Chittagong port-bound from different ports of the world.

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