Chattogram customs house will auction off around 3,000 tonnes of abandoned items today, including four luxury cars, which had arrived in the port between 2018 and mid-2019.
The items are stored in over 210 containers, according to customs documents.
The auction will give the port some relief, as it is now suffocating with around 8,413 containers of unclaimed goods worth Tk 11,000 crore that were imported in between January 2015 and March this year.
"Quality of the goods has been checked before putting those up for auction," Faisal Al Mamun, deputy commissioner for auction at Chattogram customs, told The Daily Star.
The bidders are getting a decent response as the quality of the goods is still good, he said.
"To reduce the pressure on auction-able goods, the custom house has taken an initiative to organise one auction every month. Hopefully, if it is done regularly, the products will be saved from turning into waste."
Over 100 types of products are there in the unreleased goods' list, including commodities, cosmetics, chemicals, plastics, automobiles, electronic goods, leather goods, construction materials, tiles and ceramics, according to data from the National Board of Revenue (NBR) and Chattogram customs.
Most of them came from China, India, Australia and Singapore.
The customs law states that importers have to take delivery of goods within 30 days of those reaching the port. Defaulting on the timeline results in the customs authority to start the procedures to auction off the goods.
Deliveries are not taken because of a number of reasons, according to customs officials and importers.
A fall in the prices of goods in the local market, failure to submit original documents in support of the shipment, failure to get clearance permit reports and importers' refusal to pay fines for anomalies are some of the reasons.
The auctions get delayed because of a shortage of manpower and equipment, the officials said. "Some importers or auctioneers also go to the court which leads to further delay."
The auction-able goods lying at the port occupying huge space for years are not only hampering port activities but also causing losses for the respective shipping agents, said Ahsanul Haque Chowdhury, president of the Bangladesh Shipping Agents Association (BSAA).
"The shipping agents have to bear the storage charges as long as the products are not delivered. The losses in rent are huge for these undelivered goods," he said.
"We can neither use those containers nor send those back to the owner companies abroad as auctions do not take place in time."
The BSAA had requested the customs and the NBR several times to take measures to hold auction of undelivered consignments regularly, but the customs authority failed to do this, he said.
"We took several initiatives to accelerate the auction activities but we failed due to a lack of response from the bidders," said Fakhrul Alam, a customs commissioner.
Steps have been taken to hold auction once a month, involve 80 customs officials to make an inventory of the auction-able goods two days a week, increase manpower and equipment and launch e-tender to expedite auction activities, he added.