There’s a large volume of export cargo stuck off of the dock in Chittagong and many Bangladeshi apparel manufacturers are blaming their reliance on Maersk.
Why is Maersk the target of the industry’s ire? As of July 18th, there is about 15,550 teu of export containers awaiting export and according to the shippers, 70% are waiting for Maersk. According to those with knowledge of the port, the normal amount of cargo would measure about 6,000 teu. Not only is the amount astonishing, but the length of time is also shocking, as some cargo containers have been waiting for nearly a month.
Although Maersk is getting the brunt of the blame, shippers also point to a shortage of 40ft. boxes, a lack of feeder vessels, and space shortages.
The knock-on effects of the backlog have been an increase in truck rental costs and an overall sense of uncertainty.
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has requested of Maersk to increase feeder vessels operating between Chittagong and Colombo as well as support from other operators in an effort to expedite movement.
A meeting of the BGMEA concluded with an agreement to inform buyers that Maersk’s inability to meet demand has caused a backlog. The meeting participants also agreed to give permission to new feeder vessels to operate along the Chittagong-Colombo route and to increase the number of jetties for container vessels.
Maersk Bangladesh cited the challenges brought on by the COVID pandemic and the follow-on effects of a sudden increase in demand from western markets as the cause of the backlog in Chittagong. The company also said they’re taking multiple measures to mitigate impact and remove the obstacles causing bottlenecks in industry supply chains.