Finance Minister AMA Muhith said the licence of the 18 private inland container depots of Chittagong seaport should be cancelled because of “their inefficiency.”
The ICDs are not doing anything to ease container jam in the Chittagong port, he alleged, adding that they should be brought under monitoring and stripped of licence.
If the Chittagong port is responsible for delaying the release of containers, the port authorities, not the traders, will pay the related compensation, finance minister said at the stakeholders’ meeting at the ministry auditorium on Monday.
The meeting was held to discuss about keeping the Chittagong seaport and Benapole land port open round the clock.
Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan, Shipping Secretary Ashok Madhav Roy, Chittagong Port Authority Chairman Rear Admiral Mohammad Nizamuddin Ahmed and Bangladesh Land Port Authority Chairman Tapan Kumar Chakraborty were also present at the meeting.
In reply to Muhith’s query, the Chittagong port chairman said: “It is our policy that the private ICDs can lose licence for their inefficiency.”
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina directed the authorities concerned to keep the country’s two ports open 24 hours a day and seven days a week in a bid to ease congestion in containers uploading.
Muhith said: “It is very unfortunate for the nation that when a foreign ship comes to the Chittagong port we cannot ensure it about the time of uploading.”
He said: “The port has not been improved logistically during the past 10 years. It has not happened even today since my visit on invitation of the former chairman.”
Finance minister said the waste of time in handling the containers and the cost of doing business for importers and exporters have increased.”
“Making it fast will help the port decrease the expense of containers’ handling. We hope our concerted effort will reduce the cost of doing business at the Chittagong port.”
Muhith said he had directed the authorities concerned to speed up the process in the handling of containers so the cost of doing business came down.
“Besides, I already asked the Bank Division secretary to take step in keeping the banks’ branches at the Chittagong seaport and Benapole land port open 24 hours a day. There will also be offices of BSTI, Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission’s office.”
Finance minister said the land of Benapole port is not adequate and should be expanded. “The Benapole port is only on 50 acres of land, which is so small for such an infrastructure. The area will be increased and if necessary funds will be provided,” he said.