Relative normalcy returned to the Chattogram port yesterday after three days of disruptions to unloading of import shipments from cargo vessels berthed at the outer anchorage for rough seas and heavy rain.
Meanwhile, transport of goods from Chattogram over inland water routes has also been hampered.
A lighter carrying 1,250 tonnes of cement clinker capsized in the bay near Bhasanchar on Monday morning on developing a crack in its hull amidst the turbulent waves.
However, unloading of bulk cargoes from vessels berthed at the port's main jetties continued at a regular pace, said Md Omar Faruk, secretary to Chattogram Port Authority.
At least 40 large cargo vessels loaded with goods passed idle times at the outer anchorage for three days as lighter vessels failed to go out and unload them, according to various sources.
The goods include wheat, lentils, sugar, salt, fertiliser, stone and industrial raw materials such as cement clinker and steel scraps.
Water Transport Cell (WTC), a private organisation that operates a fleet of lighter vessels, said it was dealing with the unloading of 20 of the large cargo vessels.
The remaining vessels would be handled by lighter vessel operators owned by big industrial corporations like the Meghna Group of Companies and Abul Khair Group.
According to the WTC, their 20 vessels were carrying around 7 lakh tones of various goods.
On Saturday, the WTC allocated 13 lighter vessels to go unload the goods from these 20 cargo vessels but the process was delayed for two days due to bad weather, said Ataul Karim, a WTC official.
Once the weather improved on Wednesday morning, five or six lighter vessels sailed out into the outer anchorage to begin unloading goods, he added.
the country's premier port
Transport over inland waterways was hampered after Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) instructed not to cross the bay amidst foul weather.
This left at least 45 lighter vessels taking 55,000 tonnes of products to destinations including Narayanganj and Dhaka stranded in the Karnaphuli river.
The choppy waters has called for cautionary signal No 3 to be abided by in the area for the last couple of days.
Such disruptions lead to prolonged stays for cargo vessels at the outer anchorage while importers are left to count the demurrages for such delays in delivery.
Astoria, a Liberian bulk carrier loaded with 60,000 tonnes of wheat and lentils, arrived at the outer anchorage on September 17 and managed to unload only 9,000 tonnes of its cargo by September 20.
The unloading process came to a grinding halt on Monday, when three lighter vessels allocated for the job could not be reach the vessel due to heavy rolling in the sea, said Zahur Ahmad, director of Astoria's local agent, Seacom Shipping Lines.
If conditions were normal, 4,000 tonnes of cargo could be unloaded from the vessel each day, he said.
The owner of Astoria is incurring an additional $15,000 in operational costs for each day the ship remains idle but, then again, it is actually passed onto the importers who bear the demurrages, he added.