Finance Minister AMA Muhith yesterday expressed deep dissatisfaction at the mismanagement in container handling at Chittagong port as it pushes up the cost of imports and exports of products.
“This is a matter of shame that ships have to wait in the port for unloading goods. This is a national loss,” he said at a meeting in the secretariat.
“As a result, time is wasted and additional cost is counted,” Muhith said.
The minister expressed the frustration during a meeting on the overall situation at the Chittagong port and the Benapole land port.
The meeting was convened to find a way to keep the Chittagong port and the Benapole land port open for 24 hours and seven days a week following an instruction from the prime minister.
Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan, senior officials of the Chittagong Port Authority (CPA), the Bangladesh Bank and the National Board of Revenue, business leaders and port users were present.
Chittagong Customs Commissioner AFM Abdullah Khan said 16 out of 18 private inland container depots (ICD) are not operational.
He said the ICDs have not met the conditions set when they were given the licences.
In response, Muhith said the licences of these ICDs should be cancelled.
Siddiqur Rahman, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said increasing the capacity of the Chittagong port has been a matter of discussion for more than a decade and many meetings have been held but to no avail.
“How will you earn $50 billion in exports through this port?” he asked.
Muhith assured the exporters of taking steps to solve the problem and implement the recommendations made by the stakeholders at yesterday's meeting.
CPA Chairman M Khaled Iqbal said the port is performing well despite limited capacity.