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Bangladesh’s exporters demand alternatives to break ICD owners’ cartel

Bangladesh exporters have demanded alternative options to break the ‘cartel’ of owners of inland container depots (ICDs) that handle most of the country’s outbound cargo as the latter ‘unilaterally’ raise charges, making export costlier. They want a provision for the setting up of export-container freight stations (CFS) into the draft private ICD policy.

The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), in a recent letter to the National Board of Revenue (NBR), requested allowing forwarders, warehouse owners and any business group to set up a CFS to facilitate outbound trade.

The country’s 19 ICDs recently hiked charges by 23 per cent citing fuel price rise through a much-contended government decision.

BGMEA president Faruque Hassan wrote that CFSs owned by forwarders or warehouse companies are needed to process the export cargoes while ICDs are established to handle export-import and many other multifarious activities.

ICD is a dry-port whereas CFS and off-docks are its parts, he wrote. Goods are stuffed and un-stuffed in the containers inside the CFSs while ICDs handle many other jobs, he was cited as saying by Bangla media reports.

In India, the letter said, there are over 2,000 CFSs to facilitate its export industry.

Exporters’ trucks sometimes wait for nearly three days to load or unload cargo and they pay demurrage to trucks for their extra stay, he said.

The existing ICDs lack adequate equipment and are located very close to the port area. The port authority now decided that new ICDs can only be set up 20 kilometres away from the port area. Hassan said the new ICDs cannot compete with the existing ones due to their establishment cost and distance from the seaport.

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