Turnaround time at the Chattogram port has sharply increased because of a recent two-day countrywide transport strike, leading to vessel congestion and cancellation of berthing schedules.
At least seven vessels had to prolong their stay at jetties as containers meant for exports could not be brought in for the absence of transport during the strike.
Turnaround time refers to the period it takes between the arrival of a vessel and its departure from a port and is frequently used as a measure of port efficiency.
At the Chattogram port, it usually takes three days for a vessel to leave on getting berth and completing loading and unloading of containers.
A Idefix and TR Aramis had berthed on October 26 and had to wait for six days to get their export-laden containers.
SantosaLoukia, BLPL Grace, Ocean Prologue, Cape Montery and Mount Kellet had berthed on October 27. They had to wait for five days before departing yesterday.
Ocean Prologue left behind at least 80 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of export-laden containers, which were stuck in queues resulting from the strike and seeking to enter the port from inland container depots, said an official of the vessel's local agent Sea Consortium.
The vessel operator will now have to pay $10,000 in additional charter charge to the vessel owner and $1,500 as berthing charge to the port authorities for each day of overstay, he added.
This was the first time loading and unloading had been disrupted.
As of yesterday there were 16 container vessels at the outer anchorage waiting to get berth.
Nasir Uddin Chowdhury, a former first vice president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, fears many of the cargoes meant for the US and Europe might not be able to catch their mother vessels at transshipment ports such as Colombo or Singapore.
In such cases, another seven to eight days will be required to catch the next vessel. The only other option to deliver export items to clients is costlier airways.
This will damage the garment sector's image, said Chowdhury, adding that no such problem arose in the past couple of months and a repeat might put the sector at a great risk.
Chittagong Port Authority Secretary Md Omar Faruk said they were working hard to reduce the impact of the strike. He hoped that the situation would improve within a few days.