As of Thursday, a total of 40,259 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) of containers were stockpiled at the port yards exceeding its total of storing 36,357 TEUs of containers. Of the stockpiled containers, as many as 7550 containers stuck empty, according to the traffic department of Chittagong Port Authority.
Md Zafar Alam, member (Admin & Planning) of Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) told the Dhaka Tribune that the premier port of the country did not witness such large container congestion before.
“Highest number of imported containers could not be delivered in the last few days due to the ongoing strike. The huge pile of containers was creating a space crisis and hindering handling operations at the port,” said the high official of the CPA.
“It is a matter of grave concern as the operational activities of the premier port has remained disrupted for the last few days. The exporters are paying the price and the disruption will send out a negative message to the other countries of the world,” said Sarwarul Islam, terminal manager of Chittagong Port Authority.
Bangladesh Inland Container Depot Association (BICDA) sources said that a huge number of export containers got stranded at 16 private inland container depots in Chittagong due to the strike.
Ruhul Amin Shikder, secretary of Bangladesh Inland Container Depot Association (BICDA) told the Dhaka Tribune that the strike had an adverse impact on the trade and commerce of the country.
“The stalemate should be resolved without further delay otherwise the economy will have to bear the brunt,” said secretary of the BICDA.
According to the BICDA sources, as many as 6722 TEUs of export loaded containers and 5230 TUEs of import containers are now stranded in 16 private inland container depots of Chittagong. Besides, 43,866 empty containers are also stuck at the ICDs of Chittagong.
Mainuddin Ahmed Mintu, first vice president of the BGMEA said that they were the worst sufferers due to the wildcat strike.
“We are counting an astronomical amount of loss every day due to the strike. We have requested both the strikers and the concerned ministry to suspend the strike and slapping fine till 4 October but in vain,” said the BGMEA leader.
Meanwhile, the situation might worsen further as the trailer operators declared to carry on with their strike.
Abu Bakar Siddique, member secretary of Chittagong Prime Mover-Trailer Owners Workers Unity Council announced that they would continue their strike as their demands remained unfulfilled.
“We have sat in a negotiation meeting with Chittagong deputy commissioner Thursday. We vainly expected that we could reach at an agreement. We have decided to continue our indefinite strike as no concrete decision came from the concerned ministry in this regard,” said the striking leader.
Chittagong Prime Mover-Trailer Owners Workers Unity Council called for an indefinite strike since Monday morning protesting alleged harassment, fines and assault on trailer operators at load control centres at Daudkandi and Meghna Bridge areas on Dhaka-Chittagong highways.
The Roads and Highways Department (RHD) issued a notice on August 17 of this year to check overloading on the highways through fixing the weight limit of highest 33 tonnes for each prime mover. Provision for fine was also kept in the notice.
“The trailers are being fined Tk 10000 by the RHD if they carry more than 33 tonnes of goods. Moreover, the concerned authorities had not held any discussion with us before imposition of the fine,” alleged the trailer operator.
On the other hand, the transports operators of Chittagong also threatened to go for strike if the demand put forward by the trailers is not fulfilled.
“We will not operate any vehicle laden with goods from greater Chittagong from Saturday if the demands raised by the trailer operators are not met,” announced Abul Kalam Azad, secretary general of Chittagong District Road Transport Owners Group.
Expressing solidarity with the ongoing strike enforced by the trailer operators, Chittagong regional chapter of Bangladesh Road Transport Workers Federation also threatened to enforce transport strike in greater Chittagong from Sunday.
Md Musa, president of Chittagong regional chapter of Bangladesh Road Transport Workers Federation told the Dhaka Tribune that they would not ply any passenger vehicle in greater Chittagong from Sunday if the demand of the trailer operators is not fulfilled.