Chittagong port users and importers yesterday called for withdrawal of vehicle's weight limit set by the government on goods transport through highways.
They made the call at a meeting organised by the Chittagong Port Users Forum, at World Trade Centre in Chittagong.
On November 30, the Road Transport and Highways Division said a six-wheeler truck will be allowed to carry at best 22 tonnes, including the weight of the vehicle and goods, with effect from December 1.
The limit for 10 wheelers has been set at 30 tonnes while it was 40 tonnes for 14 wheelers.
After taking the vehicle's weight into account, a six-wheeler can now carry only 13 tonnes of goods, which hover around 20 tonnes before the imposition of the limit, importers said.
Now businesses have to hire an additional truck to transport 20 tonnes of goods, they said.
The weight limit would ultimately increase transport cost and demand for vehicles that will create further traffic congestion on the Dhaka-Chittagong highway and at Chittagong port, they said.
The transport cost has increased by around 10-25 percent, as the load capacity has been decreased by 25 percent due to the restriction, said Zahir Uddin Ahmed, CEO of Confidence Cement.
Such cost will ultimately have an adverse impact on the consumers, Ahmed said.
The restriction was imposed to save the highways but steps should have been taken to find out the reason behind quicker damage of the roads and highways, he said.
Around 30 to 35 tonnes of goods are imported in a 40-foot container, said AKM Akhter Hossain, president of Chittagong Customs Clearing and Forwarding Agents Association.
When such a container is carried by a prime mover, the combined weight of the container, the goods and the vehicle—exceeds 50 tonnes, Hossain said.
“How one can carry the same amount of goods keeping the weight limit set for such prime movers within 40 tonnes?”
Importers are now facing a scarcity of vehicles, which could create a fresh congestion at the port, he said.
Vehicle owners are now cashing in on the sudden rise in demand and charging more, said
Khairul Alam Sujan, director of Bangladesh Freight Forwarders Association.
Traffic congestion on the Dhaka-Chittagong highway is also increasing, he said.
Some of the owners are also trying to bring low quality vehicles to the street, he said.
The restriction should be withdrawn for the sake of the businesses, said Mahbubul Alam, chairman of the port users' forum.
Alam, also the president of Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said steps should be taken soon to start construction of eight-lane Dhaka-Chittagong highway and dedicated expressway on the route.