Across the world, freight forwarders provide logistic support as a door to door service. But in our country, it is still a faraway dream. What are the reasons behind this?
Freight forwarding as a backward linkage of a country’s export-import is globally known as, “Door to Door Service”. The freight forwarders from developed countries can provide the door to door service as they are facilitated with running their own warehouse or bonded warehouse. In our country there are no such facilities. For this reason, the prime seaport in Chittagong has been facing containers congestion. The port’s usual operations have also been hampered.
The amount of export-import through Chittagong port has increased robustly, while the capacity of the depots has not increased. The depots are now overloaded with containers, causing the movement of transports and export-import to be hampered. So, the government should permit us to run warehouses, where we could unstuff the containers. The customs formalities would also be inside the warehouses. If this facility is provided, the door to door service would be introduced automatically.
But, isn’t there a security concern in freight-forwarders running warehouses?
Look, security concerns prevails everywhere. The government has already providing bonded warehouse facilities for some exports. Are they selling all their export goods at the local market? This is a global practice and we are badly in need of this. If there is any security concern, the government could inspect it strictly and if someone is found misusing the facilities, they must be punished. But it is illogical to not give us the facilities stating that it is a security concern.
What about the transportation?
The problem of transportation is also related to the shortage in number of off-docks and the crisis of spaces at the warehouses, because the number of vehicles has increased, but not the warehouses. We often see that vehicles are standing at the port gate, but due to space crisis it cannot not load or unload the goods. Booth time and money is being wasted, and sometimes it leads to vehicle crisis.
We do not even have any transport policy yet. Due to this, there is a lack of directives about how the transport organizations should operate carrying the export-import goods.
In addition, the number of port gates is not enough. There should be three port gates for export goods and four gates for imported goods transportation.
From December 1, 2017, the government imposed a vehicle weight limit. How has that affected your business and export-import in general?
On November 30, last year, the Road Transport and Highways Division said a six-wheeler truck will be allowed to carry at most 22 tons, including the weight of the vehicle and goods. This has been in effect since December 1. The limit for 10-wheelers is at 30 tons, while it is 40 tons for 14 wheelers.
The execution of the decision has badly affected the transportation of goods, because a 6-wheeler can now carry only 13 tons of goods, where it previously carried 20 tons previously. The weight limit has increased the transportation cost and the demand of transport has also increased. The vehicle owners are now demanding more money because of the sudden rise in transport demand. The restriction should be withdrawn for the sake of the businesses.
Is everything alright with the customs related services?
No. There are a number of problems that we are facing while dealing with customs authorities. Although it is encouraging that Bangladesh has entered in the ASYCUDA (Automated System for Customs Data briefly called ASYCUDA, is an innovative, efficient and effective method for customs procedures adopted by modern custom authorities world-wide), we are not getting all the customs facilities 24/7 online. For example, we have to submit Import General Manifest (IGM) and we can submit it online, but if there is any problem in the manifest, we cannot make the correction through online services. We have to manually do that. The IGM needs to be ready in a hurry. When using a computer, there could be a typing error. To make any corrections, we have to physically go to the customs authority, where we have to suffer a lot of complexities and the officials often claim speed money.