Chittagong Customs House yesterday started disposing of nearly 2,000 tonnes of perishable goods stuffed in 88 containers as the importers left those abandoned for years.
Goods include onion, ginger, garlic, apple, malta and pomegranate. These products were brought in refrigerated containers between 2010 and 2016. Around 50 businesses imported these goods from different countries.
Md Nazmul Haque, assistant commissioner of customs, told The Daily Star that goods of 16 containers were destroyed on the first day.
Representatives of the department of environment, navy, Chittagong City Corporation, Chittagong Metropolitan Police, RAB, shipping agents and customs were present on the spot.
Sirajul Islam, managing director of Sathi Fresh Fruits and one of the importers of these goods, said he brought in 24 tonnes of malta from China in 2010.
“While heading towards Bangladesh, the containers onboard did not have the power connection leading to the deterioration of the quality of fruits. We won't be able to sell the fruits in the market due to its condition,” said Islam, also the president of Bangladesh Fruits Importers Association.
According to Chittagong Port Customs, over 7.19 lakh tonnes of goods worth Tk 4,309.74 crore are lying at the port. Out of these, usable and edible goods will be put on auction and others will be destroyed, officials said.
“Port authority missed revenues and we were deprived of our charges," said Ahsanul Huq, chairman of Bangladesh Shipping Agents' Association.
Moreover, he said, shipping agents had to pay electricity bills for some of these containers. If the authority had taken timely measures, such losses could have been avoided, he said.