ICDs and the first seaport
January 20, 2022 9:32:44 PM
The increase in container handling capacity by Inland Container Depots (ICDs) is a good sign. In addition to being increasingly competent and efficient, these private depots are contributing significantly to reducing the load on the country’s main seaport at Chottogram. A report published in this newspaper indicates that the overall handling of containers by the seventeen private depots in the country has increased by nearly 16% over the past year.
According to inland container operators, this growth, especially in terms of volume, is the highest since the launch of the ICD business in the country in the late 1980s. cargo they handle is at least 3.0 percentage points higher than the Port of Chottogram’s container handling last year. Handling of export goods by deposit takers increased by more than 25% in 2021 in a robust rebound after the opening of economies in Europe and North America. Import handling, however, recorded negative growth of nearly 2.3 percent. Some operators are hoping the trend will continue in the coming months, especially in handling RMG export shipments, as orders are flowing in smoothly.
Unlike the performance of private ICDs, that of the country’s main seaport is sluggish to say the least. The Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) has signaled the urgent need to improve port efficiency and expand capacity to meet the demands it says will soon increase. The supreme chamber predicts that if production starts at full speed in the industrial city of Bangabandhu and other special economic zones in the country, the pressure on the main seaport will increase considerably. At a recent meeting of the House Standing Committee, it was pointed out that the cost of doing business could be reduced by at least five percent if the capacity of the Port of Chittagong was enhanced, and that would certainly be an advantage. for foreign entrepreneurs to invest in Bangladesh.
What private depositors have done despite many bottlenecks is commendable. But it is extremely important that the main seaport also improves its services, overhauls its infrastructure with modern technology and increases its capacity in order to cope with the increasing pressure of incoming and outgoing cargoes. The country’s business community has been very outspoken in suggesting measures from time to time to improve port facilitation. Some improvements have reportedly been made, although the FBCCI noted that the core issue is the cost of doing business – an area in which Bangladesh has long lagged. The country ranks almost at the bottom of the Doing Business index. While port facilitation can bring about a major breakthrough in this regard, every effort should be made. After all, in today’s fiercely competitive business world, reducing cost and time overruns is the most sought-after goal of trade and business facilitation of all kinds.