Spinners are facing troubles as they cannot release cotton from Chittagong port in time due to congestion that was created from the breakdown of two of the four gantry cranes in June.
Cotton is an essential raw material for the garment sector, the country's main export earner.
The spinners import cotton from India, the US, African countries and many others, and they have to wait for eight to 10 days to release the cotton from the port.
“Sometimes, we have to wait even for two weeks to release the containerised cotton from the port,” said Razeeb Haider, managing director of Outpace Spinning Mills Ltd.
Even six months ago the spinners could release the cotton from the port within three days, which was very convenient for them, he said.
The longer waiting time at the port means paying fees to the Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) every day as berthing charge.
Haider said every cotton importer has to face the same situation as him at the port now.
The importers are paying $14-$20 for a container as overstaying fee at the port every day. The fees have been increasing the cost of doing business.
In such a scenario, importers are bringing in more raw cotton than they need at present and stockpiling them at warehouses.
The stockpiling has also a big cost for spinners, Haider said.
Leaders of Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA), the spinners' platform, will meet with the chairman of the CPA soon for a solution to the problem.
It might take six to seven months to repair the two gantry cranes at the Chittagong port, according to Md Jafar Alam, member for administration and planning at the CPA.
Alam said the turnaround time at the port has come down due to rolling out of round-the-clock operations on August 1.
The goods are released from the port by geared vessels, which have a similar capacity to gantry cranes.
Now, the average turnaround time of ships at the port is 2.97 days, down from 10 days in the aftermath of the breakdown of the two cranes.
“If the cotton importers can submit the documents timely we can deliver the goods in normal time, like in three days.”
However, the port authority does not have any special arrangement for cotton importers, Alam said.
He suggested the cotton importers should use Pangaon river port for reducing transport cost and time.
In 2016, Bangladesh imported 6.5 million bales of cotton, and of the amount only 0.7 million bales were imported through Benapole land port, according to Monsoor Ahmed, secretary of the BTMA.
Bangladesh's cotton import will creep up to 7.1 million bales in 2017-18, further consolidating its position as the world's largest importer of the fibre, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.
Bangladesh has overtaken China after the latter stopped sourcing due to ample stocks of its own.
In 2016-17, seven million bales were imported; one bale equals 480 pounds or 218kg, and the cotton year begins on August 1 and ends on July 31.
Local growers can only supply less than 3 percent of the yearly demand, leading to imports worth over $3 billion.
The 430 local spinning mills can supply nearly 90 percent of the yarn for the knitwear sector and 40 percent of the fabrics needed by the woven sector.