Due to the ongoing violence in Sri Lanka, activities in the country’s port of Colombo have stood for two days. Although the Colombo port started operations on a limited scale on May 11, 2022, it may take a few days for it to be fully operational. As a result, traders are afraid of facing new difficulties in transporting Bangladeshi import-export goods through the country’s ports. The article is about Sri Lankan Crisis Affecting Bangladesh Trade.
Forty percent of Bangladesh’s exports go from Chittagong port to Europe-America via Colombo port in Sri Lanka. Similarly, most of the goods imported from Europe-America and India were brought to Chittagong through Colombo port. Waiting time for imports of goods will be extended due to the ongoing violence in Sri Lanka disrupting port activities. Again, there are fears that the export of goods from Chittagong to Sri Lanka will take extra time to reach foreign buyers.
Large container vessels cannot ply through Chittagong port. For this, containers are taken from Chittagong to the ports of Sri Lanka, Singapore, and Malaysia by small ships. After that, the goods were brought in containers to the European-American countries by big ships from those ports. Therefore, although small container vessels have recently started plying directly from Chittagong to Europe, it is far less than required. For this reason, Bangladesh has to depend on the ports of Sri Lanka, Singapore, and Malaysia.
Syed Nazrul Islam, first Vice President of BGMEA, an association of garment exporters, said, “Sri Lanka was facing problems in importing and exporting goods due to ongoing issues. Since we are handing over the export products to foreign buyers in Chittagong, it may not be a big problem. To provide better services, it is necessary to increase the coverage of small ships directly to Europe-America instead of Singapore and Sri Lanka. The garment sector will be competitive.”
Sri Lankan ports have come to a standstill this time after violent incidents in the country. Protests have been on for more than a month in Sri Lanka, demanding the government’s fall in the economic crisis. A state of emergency has been declared in Sri Lanka since May 6, 2022. Clashes broke out between the ruling party and anti-government protesters. A curfew was imposed to quell the protests. As a result, there was a stalemate in the port. Before this, the import and export of Bangladeshi goods were disrupted due to ship traffic at the port.
However, when the Sri Lankan port activities came to a standstill, the port authorities said in a notice that all activities at the Sri Lankan port were going on without any hindrance. In a notice posted on the Sri Lankan Port Authority’s website, the port’s chairman, Prashant Jayamanna, said port workers were aware of the current economic woes. They are performing their duties with more devotion than before.
Six container ships of Mediterranean Shipping Company, the world’s leading shipping company, are plying the Chittagong-Sri Lanka route. Ajmer Hossain Chowdhury, Head of Operations and Logistics, told that the activities were disrupted due to the non-arrival of port workers during the curfew. Hopefully, the problem will go away quickly. He said efforts were being made to bring the imported goods to the port in 8,000 single containers bound for Chittagong.
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