Chattogram Port, the country’s prime getaway, started operation on Saturday after its operational activities had remained suspended for three days for cyclonic storm Fani. On Saturday afternoon, after the meteorological department downed the signal number 6 to 3; the activity of the port began. The vessels, which went to the deep sea, started to return at port Channel. CPA source confirmed the full operational activities would start from Sunday morning shift.
Mohammad Omar Faruq, Secretary of CPA told Bangladesh Post, the port has started functioning and loading and unloading of goods has begun in the jetties and outer anchorage after the weather alert signal was reduced to 3.
A Chattogram Port Authority (CPA) source said as this has been the longest period in terms of suspension of port activities in recent years, the port is going to face hard times to handle the increased pressure of ships. Since Thursday morning, export-import activities hit a snag as the port, that handles nearly 80 per cent of the country’s total export-import, shut activities for the approaching severe cyclonic storm Fani.
Till Saturday, 90 ships had been waiting to deliver goods, of which, 35 will enter jetties in the port channel, and the rest of the mother vessels will unload at outer anchorage, he added. He also said Chattogram Port has only 19 functional jetties where a vessel takes at least two days to load and unload.
On Thursday, when the port suspended activity, 21 vessels were at jetties and 38 at outer anchorage, but 90 ships in total were in on Saturday. Among the vessels, there are containers in 21, general cargo in 20, cement clinker in 22 while 14 are full of consumer goods including sugar and six different types of edible oil.
At the port yard, there were 40,988 TEUS (twenty feet equivalent unit) container on Saturday, where the capacity of the yard is 49,000TEUS. The number of vessels and containers is beyond the capacity limits as the port can handle only 8-10 vessels, and deliver around 4000 TEUS containers a day. The same number of vessels also enters Port areas, meaning a large number of vessels coupled with container congestion is imminent. This in turn, can hit garments exports and commodity supplies in the local market.
Abdus Salam, First Vice President of Bangladesh Garments Manufacturer and Exporters Association, BGMEA told this reporter, if the congestion continues, the sector may face heavy losses as volume of exports will increase before Eid. “I think port authority also has a plan to recover from the situation, and in this regard, we will meet port officials soon, he added.
According to the BGMEA sources, half the amount of imported goods at the Chattogram Port is for the garment industries, and eighty percent of the export products are garments. Chattogram Port has been experiencing 12-14% growth in cargo and container handling for the past few years. According to the 2018 edition of Lloyd's List One Hundred Container Ports, Chattogram Port is the 70th- busiest container port in the world.
In the last twelve years, though no new jetty has been built in the port, addition of new equipment and extra efforts have made the growth possible. The Port handled the highest-ever 2,903,996 (2.904 million) TEUs (twenty feet equivalent unit) of containers in 2018 against 2,667,203 (2.667 million) TEUs in 2017. The total volume of cargo handling of the port in 2018 was 96,311,224 million tonnes. As many as 3,747 vessels arrived in the country's prime seaport in the calendar year 2018.
When contacted, Mahbubul Alam, president of Chattogram Chamber of Commerce and Industry said, the port authority and stakeholders should work hard to reduce the impact of cyclone Fani. He hoped the situation would improve within a few days.