Importers suffer for agents' dispute
A dispute between two companies over who would act as the local agent for Far Shipping, a Singaporean shipping company, has left many importers in a state of suspense over the delivery of their goods at the Chittagong Port.
Sea Marine Shipping Lines, a subsidiary of SHR Group, had been acting as the local agent of Far Shipping since 2014 but the contract expired on January 31. Far Shipping then appointed Marco Shipping, a concern of Karnaphuli Group, as its local agent.
But for formal handover, a joint declaration letter needed to be signed by both the local agencies, which Sea Marine Line has refused to do so.
The Chittagong Customs House has sent letters to both the agencies to sit down in a meeting to come up with a solution, according to its deputy commissioner Abdur Rashid Miah. But Sea Marine has refused to do that either.
Golam Moinuddin, director of marketing of Sea Marine Line, said Far Shipping has dues. “Without clearing our dues, Far Shipping cannot assign any other local agent -- it is not legal.”
The deadlock has left five vessels of Far Shipping Lines waiting for 5-18 days to get berth at the Chittagong Port, which is longer than the average wait time of 3-4 days.
The vessels were carrying about 3,000 containers of goods of more than 400 importers including Unilever, Pran-RFL, Square, Meghna, Beximco, Navana, GPH, Maf Shoes, Great Wall Ceramics, Abul Khair Group, PHP Family, Partex and Berger Paints.
Seeing the restlessness of the importers, the Chittagong Customs House gave Marco Shipping the temporary permit to handle Far Shipping's vessels until February 28.
Subsequently, four ships were given berth; they finished offloading the containers on Thursday. One of the ships is still waiting at the outer anchorage since February 17.
“The situation will worsen if a permanent solution does not come up soon,” said Jasim Ahmed, executive director of Maf Shoes, which suffered for the delay.
Azmir Hossain Chowdhury, assistant general manager of Marco Shipping, said he hopes the authorities would solve the stalemate.