September 23, 2021

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Containers will go to private depots to reduce port congestion

The National Board of Revenue (NBR) has approved the removal of all types of imported containers to 19 private depots to reduce congestion at the Chittagong port. The NBR on the recommendation of the Ministry of Shipping issued an official order in this regard on Sunday noon.

As a result of the issuance of this new order, there was no obstacle in the way of transporting the loaded containers to the private depots. As a result of the new order, importers will be able to unload all types of imported goods at the depot till August 31.

Strict restrictions have been in place since last Friday to prevent corona infections. The unloading of goods from the port has decreased abnormally as most of the factories were closed at that time.

In such a situation, the Chittagong Port Authority (CPP) sent a letter to the Ministry of Shipping last Saturday to keep the activities of the port running. It is said that if the unloading of containers from inside the port is stopped, there is a danger that the operation of the port will come to a standstill after two-three days.

Chittagong Port Chairman Rear Admiral M Shahjahan said the containers would not be congested at the port for the time being as the depot was allowed to move. Factories that are open to restrictions are starting to unload products.

The order, signed by Mehraj-ul-Alam, second secretary of the NBR, said that in order to resolve the container congestion at the port, all types of goods imported through the port have been allowed to be stored, unstuffed and unloaded from depots on the recommendation of the shipping ministry. The order requires 100 per cent physical inspection at the time of scanning and unloading of commercial goods at the depot from the port to the depot.

Syed Nazrul Islam, first vice-president of BGMEA, said it takes more time and cost to unload goods from the port to the depot. Entrepreneurs in the garment industry may face a complicated situation with the unloading of goods.

There is an arrangement to keep 49 thousand containers in Chittagong port. Till yesterday, there were about 42,000 containers. The importers have unloaded only 39 containers in three days from the day after Eid till yesterday morning, though three and a half thousand containers were unloaded in normal days. Even if the importers do not unload the container after the new order, it can be taken to the depot. There is an opportunity to keep more than 20,000 imported containers in 19 container depots in Chittagong.

If the ongoing restrictions are prolonged, many purchases in Europe will be canceled. We export more leather and synthetic (synthetic leather) shoes to the European market. On the one hand, there is the fear of cancellation of the purchase order, on the other hand, the orders that were likely to be received in the future will go to other countries. Not just shoes, all types of export-oriented industries will suffer if the restrictions are extended.

The main markets for leather and synthetic shoes made in our country are the countries of the European Union. In the Corona epidemic, we have received very good purchases from those countries. Because, in all those countries, corona has been vaccinated. Shopping mall has been opened. That is why the purchase orders from the countries were increasing. So hopefully export orders may increase this year compared to last year. But everything will depend on how long our country has strict restrictions.

A change in the shoe world market was quite noticeable in the Corona epidemic. That is, people are more interested in synthetic shoes than leather shoes. The purchase order of leather shoes is not available as before. But the purchase of synthetic shoes is increasing. Because, in Corona, the purchasing power of people all over the world has decreased. That is why people in Europe are buying more synthetic shoes instead of leather ones. You can use synthetic shoes for exercise as well as for office use.

Another change seen in the shoe market is that buyers are moving away from China. Many large buyers in the US and Europe have moved away from China since the Corona infection.

These two factors have played a big role in increasing the purchase order in our country. First, there is a rift between China and Europe-America over the Corona infection. Second, European countries have begun to normalize. But now there is a problem in our country. This time the export-oriented industry has been shut down due to strict restrictions. That is why our potential is under threat. For those coming out of China, we could hold these customers. It will be difficult now.

After the relocation of the leather factory from Hazaribagh in the capital to Savar, the export of leather products suffered a major setback. The amount of leather goods we used to export before going to Savar leather industry town has decreased a lot. Because, the working environment in Savar leather industry city is not good. The Central Waste Treatment Plant (CETP) is not functioning there due to design errors. The chrome recovery unit is also not working. Work on the dumping yard has not started yet.

So when will the working environment be ensured there? That is why we are in so much danger. Trying to survive somehow. In the 2014-15 financial year, our leather shoe exports amounted to Tk 250 crore. That has come down to at least 50 crore rupees. But at one time it was thought that if the leather industry was taken to Hemayetpur, the export would increase. But the opposite has happened.

Strict measures have been taken to protect the corona in our factory after the onset of corona infection in Bangladesh. We brought 10,000 masks from China and gave them to the factory workers. We also regularly wash our hands before entering the factory, check their temperature, use our own transport from home to the factory, and make arrangements to eat. As a result, no one in my factory was affected by Corona. However, it is difficult to wear a mask all the time in the heat inside the factory. Despite this, we have made many requests to the workers to stay in the factory wearing masks. This is our success. However, when you go out of the factory, you see a different picture.