Stalemate eases over waiver certificates at Ctg port
A breakthrough finally came about yesterday over a stalemate centring issuance of waiver certificates which allow foreign flagged container vessels to carry cargo to and from the country's seaports.
Following a directive of the Department of Shipping's director general (DG) at a tripartite meeting in his Dhaka office, Mercantile Marine Department (MMD) in Chattogram has started issuing the certificates against applications of some 15 container vessels.
Operators of foreign container feeder vessels were either facing unusual delays in obtaining the certificate or being denied the document altogether since February 6.
On being denied, Dubai-based feeder operator Unifeeder withdrew one of its two container ships from the Chattogram-Colombo route on February 20.
The Bangladesh Flag Vessel (protection of interest) Act 2019 priorities locally-owned vessels and stipulates that they must carry 50 per cent of all sea-borne cargo.
The certificate waives this rule and obtaining it is mandatory for foreign ships intending to carry cargo to and from Bangladesh.
The DG, Commodore Md Nizamul Haque, chaired the meeting which was attended by representatives of both Bangladesh and foreign flagged vessels.
The meeting took some decisions.
One was that main line operators (MLOs) would give cargoes to Bangladeshi flagged vessels and also enter into a common carrier agreement with them at the lowest or a competitive freight rate as determined by the annual tender, said sources attending the meeting.
Upon receiving the online applications, the MMD will decide on issuing the waiver certificate within a prescribed 72 hours.
If a decision is not provided by then, it will be assumed that the waiver certificate has been granted automatically, they said.
In case of a denial, Bangladesh Ocean Going Vessel Owners Association (BOGSOA) will need to give detailed information of the vessel which would carry the associated cargo at the particular port and date.
If a vessel is not made available, penalty provisions will be invoked.
Confirming the decisions, the DG told The Daily Star that interests of both Bangladeshi and foreign flagged vessels need to be ensured to keep foreign trade smooth.
He said Bangladeshi flagged vessels need to take part in the trade with competitive freight rates while the MLOs and feeder vessels should also share cargo with the locally owned vessels showing respect to the law.
A senior official of a foreign shipping line attending the meeting said they have no problem to share cargo with the Bangladeshi flagged vessels if they offer competitive freight rates through annual tender.
Bangladesh Shipping Agents Association Chairman Syed M Arif said they would observe the procedure in the coming days.