Transport strike: RMGs face massive disruption in supply chain, port congestion likely

The apparel sector of the country fears facing further disruptions in their export-import and overall supply chain due to the decision of truck and covered van owners to continue the ongoing transport strikes.

The country's export sector, which has been turning around losses of the pandemic, is at the highest risk due to the transport strike, said the manufacturers.

Manufacturers also said that if the situation is prolonged, there could be a big crisis in all export-oriented sectors of the country, including the apparel industry.

Owners of the transport sector began the strike on Friday in protest of the hike in fuel prices as they think it will sink the transport sector into losses.

The bus owners withdrew their strike after a meeting with Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA), where it has proposed to increase the diesel-powered bus and minibuses fare by 27% per kilometre.

However, the Bangladesh Covered Van-Truck Prime Mover Goods Transport Owners’ Association has announced they will continue their strike until their demands are met.

The organization's Additional Secretary-General Abdul Motaleb confirmed the development at a press conference in Dhaka on Sunday afternoon.

The organization made three demands - withdrawal of increased price of diesel and kerosene, withdrawal of increased toll at Jamuna and Muktarpur bridges, and stopping extortion at all city corporations and municipalities in the name of toll.

The apparel manufacturers said that they could not collect the required raw materials from the Chittagong port as there were no trucks and covered vans to carry them.

Moreover, the goods-laden trucks and covered vans are not going to the port from the factories in the industrial regions like Dhaka, Gazipur, Narayanganj, Munshiganj, Narsingdi, and Manikganj.

Industry insiders are concerned about container congestion at the port as well on-time delivery of export-oriented goods.

According to port insiders, the unloading of imported goods from the port and transportation of export goods from the depot came to a halt from Saturday.

Goods carrying vehicles could not enter or exit from the port, which amplified the concerns among exporters, importers, C&F agents, shipping agents and port users, they said.

Talking to Dhaka Tribune, Md Ruhul Amin Sikder, secretary of the Bangladesh Inland Container Depots Association (BICDA), said that about 34,000 TEUs (Twenty-foot equivalent unit) empty containers, 9,750 TEUs containers for export and 8,400 TEUs containers for imported remained stuck in the ICDs (Inland container depot) for shipping as vehicles did not enter the port from Friday to Sunday.

“Most of them are to be shipped or imported products of the apparel sector,” he added.

He also said that congestion happens at the port if work comes to a halt for even 12 hours, and it’s been disrupted for days now. 

“No products are being transported from the 19 ICDs, there is interference in the normal functioning of the port, and it will take a long time to get rid of this congestion,” he added.

Moreover, sources from the port also said that export products worth Tk3,000 crore remained stuck at the ICDs of the Chittagong port on the third day of the nationwide transport strike.

Md Omar Faruk, secretary of Chittagong Port Authority, said that the internal activities of the port are operational but the delivery is closed.

“If this continues, the port's capacity will be disrupted which could lead to huge economic losses and severe congestion. But there will be no big problem if the problem is solved by Sunday,” he added.

Shahidullah Azim, vice-president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) said that sufficient numbers of ships are waiting at the outer anchorage of the port to unload the raw materials for the apparel items.

“But there are no trucks and covered vans to carry the goods to the factories. Moreover, we cannot send the export products to the port due to the same crisis,” he added.

He also said that the delay in the movement of raw materials from the port to the factories and the finished goods from the factories to the port creates a lead time delay of several days or more.

“We have imported raw materials in bulk as the purchase orders are insanely high for our apparel items as the global economy has returned to normalcy,” he added.

He also said that strikes at this stage of recovery are hampering the recovery process, causing delays in product shipments and the supply chain has been disrupted.

They will soon meet with the concerned authorities on this issue. 

They also want to reduce the increased price of diesel, as it will also impact the industry negatively, said Azim.

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