Lighter vessels shortage increases cost of imported goods at Ctg port
Business claimed that the costs of importing goods have gone up at the Chittagong port for the shortage of lighter vessels, a type of flat-bottomed barge used to transfer goods and passengers to and from moored ships.Businesspeople said that the importers have paid extra charges and demurrages to foreign shipping companies for delayed cargo unloading, consumers ultimately have to bear the costs of such additional payments.
Chittagong Port sources said, the dearth of lighters not only affects consumers' pockets, but also creates major vessel congestion at the port affecting the global image of the country's prime seaport. According to the sources, the mother vessels cannot directly enter the port jetties to unload large volumes of cargo due to the low draft at the outer anchorage area, which stands some 16 kilometers away from the jetties.
Lighters are the only means to unload goods that arrive in bulk cargo. There are 39 river jetties across the country including Chittagong, Dhaka, and Narayanganj for unloading goods from lighters. According to the Water Transport Cell (WTC), a forum of the lighter owners who distribute lighters to importers for shifting goods from large vessels, 2,100 lighters have received licenses from the government, but there are only 1,450 lighters in operation at the Chittagong port. Businesspersons claim there is a need for 500 more lighters at the port to meet the ongoing crisis.
-AA Business Desk