Cement Industry Leaders Want 2013 Freight Policy Abandoned
Cement industry leaders are on the verge of demanding the removal of government policy requiring the transport of goods by their lighter vessels. The policy, they say, has cemented the Water Transport Cell’s (WTC) arbitrary control over the movement of lightweight ships and has hampered their operations for years.
Formulated in 2013, the freight transport policy requires cement factories to transport 50% of their imported raw materials using vessels operated by the government’s Water Transport Cell (WTC), even if they have their own vessels.
Leaders of the Bangladesh Cement Manufacturers Association (BCMA) also called on the government competition commission to step in and restrict the absolute authority of the WTC in setting freight rates.
In an effort to quell the conflict resulting from the WTC’s dominance in the lightening vessel sector, the Department of Navigation is scheduled to meet with the WTC, BCMA and the Bangladesh Cargo Vessel Owners’ Association (BCVOA) on October 17.
According to BCMA sources, business owners will demand at the meeting that the 2013 freight policy be dropped. Among other demands, cement industry leaders should seek the freedom to operate vessels without the WTC being at the helm to set timetables, a reduced rate for transporting goods from the outside anchorage of Chattogram Harbor to other parts of the country, no arbitrary fines for lightening vessels without discussion with business owners, and timely delivery of vessels when a mother vessel reaches outer anchorage.
On October 11, the Business Standard released a report titled âBulk Importers at the Mercy of a Cartel of Lighter Vessels,â which detailed the overall picture of freight transport on sea routes.
Md Shahidullah, BCMA’s first vice president told TBS: âOur main demand at the October 17th meeting is the removal of the 2013 freight policy as it requires us to transport 50% of our imports. of raw materials using ships operated by the WTC. We won’t accept it at all. “
He also said they would seek the removal of a recently issued naval notification, which made it mandatory to operate vessels on a WTC schedule.
“We will also ask that the revised freight rates between the outer anchorage of Chattogram Port and regional ports in Dhaka and other parts of the country be proportional,” he added.
The transport tariff from the outer anchorage from the port of Chattogram to the ports of the Dhaka region (Dhaka, Narayanganj, Meghna, Muktarpool, Kachpur, Aliganj, Nitaiganj) has been reduced by 133 Tk and revised to 450 Tk per tonne, while the Tariffs to other routes around the country have only been cut between Tk41 per tonne to Tk80 per tonne, Shahidullah said.
“Only people with links to the cell benefit from it, not shipowners or other stakeholders in the sector,” he said, requesting the intervention of the Bangladesh government’s Competition Commission.
The WTC was established in 2003 to systematically oversee the operation of private lightening vessels. Currently, some 2,500 vessels carry cargo from the outer anchorage of Chattogram Harbor on 34 routes across the country, with the WTC controlling the operation of 1,300 private vessels, while some 400 vessels are managed by owners of the cement industry, and the rest is independent on a small scale. the operators.
On August 23, the Department of Shipping issued an emergency naval notification, directing industries to follow the 2013 freight policy. The circular, signed by Commodore AZM Jalal Uddin, director general of the Department of Navigation, states that all lightening vessels involved in the transport of goods in the port of Chattogram, and all types of jetties on both sides of the port and mother ships, must load and unload the goods according to the schedule of the Water Transport Unit, in accordance with the Cargo Transport Policy 2013.
Violation of the guidelines would result in appropriate legal action against the ship’s owner, captain and crew, the notification adds.
As a result of the notification issued by the shipping department, complications arose with mixed and different reactions reported by the WTC, cement makers and industry leaders.
Even an incident of sailors from battered ships was reported. The incident was allegedly carried out on behalf of the WTC to establish its control and authority over the transport of goods and ships.