The country’s apex clothing body is allegedly obstructing launching of the much-talked-about container terminal management system (CTMS) at Chittagong port to get ‘undue benefits’ from the existing system, officials said.
The CTMS is purported to provide the quickest possible service to the port users. It is based on a computerised system, aiming at reducing the premier port’s turnaround time significantly and ensuring a hassle-free port operation.
It has already missed four deadlines mainly due to opposition by the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), the apex clothing body.
Its next and the fifth deadline scheduled for September 11 is likely to fail too as the clothing body wants to sit with its members in Dhaka and Chittagong during the same period.
The nearly 4.0 million-euro CTMS project was earlier scheduled to be launched in December last year; later it was rescheduled for February this year and its third deadline was June last, sources said.
Its August deadline also failed and it was extended up to September 11.
But BGMEA leaders said they would seek one month more to prepare themselves for the new system.
“We require one month more from the next deadline (of September 11) as our members need more counselling,” said BGMEA first vice-president Nasir Uddin Chowdhury.
Mr Nasir said: “We have been accustomed to the existing system for long. For this, we need more time.”
On the other hand, officials of Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) said they are now fully ready to launch the system.
“We are ready to launch the system right now,” CTMS project director Khairul Mustafa told the FE.
Mr Mustafa said exports-laden containers need to be brought to the port yards 24 hours prior to the arrival of ships. “For this reason, we need assistance from the garment makers, especially BGMEA,” he added.
Mr Mustafa said the present practice is that export containers arrive at the port yards 24 hours after berthing of ships.
Even in many cases, the ships wait for hours for a single box of export cargo, leading to rise in the vessel’s turnaround time.
The initiative to set up CTMS at the country’s main seaport was taken in 2005, but the authorities failed to implement the system due to various reasons earlier, the sources said.
This new system will help improve port management to an international standard and the consignees will benefit much from it, port officials said.
The CTMS will reduce human contact sharply in the port, they added.
The port officials said if an equipment operator keeps a container at a place for which it is not meant, then the programme under the CTMS will instantly give a signal.