Chittagong storage fees waived as carriers levy reefer charges

Chittagong storage fees waived as carriers levy reefer charges

Some 44,889 containers were at Chittagong’s port yard on Monday, almost 92 percent of its 49,018-container storage capacity. Photo credit: Shutterstock.com.

Shippers using the Bangladeshi Port of Chittagong received mixed news this week -- the government has waived all storage fees as containers pile up amid the pandemic-driven lockdown, but carriers are levying surcharges due to a shortage of reefer plugs.

That comes as some 44,889 containers were at Chittagong’s port yard on Monday, almost 92 percent of its 49,018-container storage capacity. The port is only delivering about 1,500 containers these days — mostly essential goods — as Bangladesh remains on lockdown in an attempt to halt the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

“The containers which reached the port during the COVID-19 [lockdown] ... will enjoy 100 percent waiver in [storage] rent,” Enamul Karim, traffic director of the Chittagong Port Authority, said in an advisory.

The Chittagong Chambers of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) last week asked the government to waive all port-related charges as importers are unable to take delivery of non-essential cargoes due to the ongoing lockdown. “We are very thankful to the government for the waiver,” CCCI head Mahbubul Alam told JOC.com. “It’s a big help for us at this crisis moment.” 

Additional reefer costs

Amid the Chittagong congestion, several carriers have imposed a surcharge on reefer containers due to the shortage of plugs. Others have started diverting Chittagong-bound reefer containers to other ports, or stopped or slowed down taking new reefer bookings. 

Chittagong has some 1,500 active reefer plugs, but it’s housing almost double that — 2,900 reefer containers — using additional temporary plugs.

Ocean Network Express (ONE) said in a notice it will apply a congestion surcharge of $1,000 per container to cover additional costs related to the reefer shipments and associated plug-in charges and monitoring fees.

Cosco Shipping said in an advisory it may be forced to discharge reefer containers in an alternative port or change transit route without notice due to the plug shortage, adding shippers will have to bear all the costs involved.

CMA CGM said it may need to make temporary storage arrangements for reefer cargo in transit. “As we try our best to safeguard your cargo, please note that all related costs will be on the shipper’s account upon delivery,” the carrier said.