Bangladeshi apparel exporters recently turned down the Chittagong Port Authority’s (CPA) proposal to release goods imported by them from private inland container depots (ICDs), termed as off-docks, accusing private ICD operators of charging higher fees and taking more time than the CPA for releasing goods. However, the ICD operators rejected the allegations.

It takes six to seven days to get the consignments released from the off-docks as compared to only two days at the port, according to apparel exporters.

The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) recently requested the National Board of Revenue (NBR) to allow releasing goods from the Chittagong port following a recent proposal by CPA to NBR for allowing release of all imported goods from private ICDs.

The private ICD operators dismissed the allegation about the delays and claimed that they are more efficient than the Chittagong port. They, however, admitted that their charges are a little higher than the port.

Private ICDs are at present barred from handling imported apparel items. However, the off-docks were allowed to deliver all goods, including those belonging to the apparel exporters, from April 24 to June 14 last year to ease the then congestion at the port.

BGMEA president Rubana Huq said in her letter to NBR that apparel exporters would lose competitiveness if the NBR accepts the CPA proposal, according to Bangladesh newspaper reports.

On December 1 last, the CPA recommended increasing the number of items to be released from the off-docks and gradually bringing all imported items under the scheme to reduce the container congestion at the Chittagong port.

The exporters also alleged that the lack of space, equipment and labour force in the private ICDs is causing delays in handling the goods.