Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) is now in the soup because of a tremendous growth of containers the recent months vis-à-vis inadequate handling capacity and space.
"We are now handling containers nearly four times of our capacity (200,000 TEUs annually)," CPA chairman AMM Shahdat Hossain told the FE.
The Chittagong port handled nearly 146,000 containers in July and August this year. The number was almost 40 per cent higher than that of the corresponding period of last year.
On the growth trend of containers in recent months, director (traffic) of the CPA Md. Ahsanul Kabir said the growth of containers would reach a record high of 900,000 TEUs in the 2005-06 fiscal. "This is going to be a hell of a job for the port authority", he said.
"We are experiencing an astonishing growth of containers in recent months despite stuffing of 80 per cent export items at the city's 13 off-dock stations", he added.
The CPA handled 654,000 TEUs in the 2003-04 fiscal while the number rose to 746,000 in the 2004-05 fiscal.
Port users said making provisions for customs clearance of containers of import items at the off-dock stations would help reduce the pressures on the CPA. They feared that problem of container congestion would aggravate further if the current trend of container growth continued.
CPA insiders said that some 600 disputed/unclaimed containers were staying at the back-yards of different jetties of the port over last few months. They said this is also contributing to the present crisis of space.
CPA claimed that that had undertaken a number of steps for smooth handling of import and export containers and a few of those were at final stages of implementation.
"We are strictly following procedures relating to the handling of containers apart from other steps for infrastructure development to cope with the changed situation", the CPA chairman said.
Construction of Newmooring Container Terminal (NCT), expansion of different yards and development of other infrastructures, including construction of roads and repair yards are going on full swing.
Besides, sources said the construction of another yard at CPA's park site, just opposite to 'Bandar Bhavon', would begin with a couple of years with a view to overcoming space shortage.
The port also hired recently four gantry cranes, which will begin operation in the first week of November to give impetus to the port's handling capacity.
Ahmed Abul Kasem, Member (Finance) of the CPA said that the cranes would be able to handle 80 boxes per hour.