The Chittagong Port Authority has requested the National Board of Revenue to make arrangements for delivery of more containers at the premises of importers instead of the port premises to reduce the congestion in the port and increase its efficiency in container handling.
Currently, around 70 per cent of full container load (FCL) containers are delivered to importers from the port premises, causing a severe congestion in the port as the containers keep the container yards occupied for long.
The revenue board allows delivery of FCL cargos stuffed with 37 types of low-risk imported goods from outside the port area.
The containers are unstuffed at 18 private inland container depots (ICD) or container freight stations (CFS) located in Chattogram and the number of containers delivered from ICDs or CFSs accounts for around 20 per cent of the total FCL containers.
Another 10 per cent of the total containers and cargos are taken delivery at the consignees’ premises.
The revenue board also allows some sectors to take delivery of their containers at the consignees’ premises at their own cost and management from the port.
Port officials said that they would be able to increase the container handling rate by 30 to 40 per cent using the existing manpower and equipment if the FCL containers were not delivered from the port.
Every day around 5,000 trucks and covered vans enter the various yards and terminals in the port area to transport the containers and boxes, they said.
At least 10,000 workers, including drivers and drivers’ assistants, also visit the port area to unload and transport the containers, causing a severe traffic jam inside the port and posing security threats to the port, they added.
The issues were discussed at a recent tripartite meeting held at the shipping ministry with state minister for shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury in the chair.
At the meeting, shipping secretary Md Abdus Samad said that the containers were transferred from the port within five minutes of arrival and the verification activities were done outside the port.
The number of visitors is very high in the Chittagong port and so many people do not visit any port in the world, he said.
The US Coast Guard in its recent visit also requested the port authority to comply with the security issues of the port, he added.
According to the meeting minute issued on November 26, the CPA said that the containers could be kept at Bay Terminal Yard as an initial alternative solution to the problem.
On the other hand, scrap items can directly be sent to the factories of importers.
The port authority has also requested the NBR to allow more import items for off-dock delivery.
It also recommended making arrangements to take on-chassis delivery of products like scraps and raw materials for the steel industry directly at the importers’ premises.
NBR officials said that the Chittagong Customs House also agreed with the CPA demand and said that the facility of on-chassis delivery could be extended to some other industries.
It also said that the number of items for off-dock delivery could be raised from the existing 18 while the number of import items, particularly low-duty and low-risk products, could be included in the list of products for delivery from off-docks, they said.
The meeting decided that the revenue board would take steps to deliver more FCL containers from outside the port premises.
The NBR will also take steps to increase the number of off-docks and include more products for delivery from off-docks.
The rate of physical verification of containers should be limited to 5 per cent and risk-free consignments should directly be sent to the consignees’ addresses to reduce the congestion in the port and improve its efficiency, it said.
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