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Benefits of sending LCL import cargos outside port area

Mohammed Abdullah Jahir | September 19, 2023 00:00:00

A modern port is one which handles only containers not the bulk cargoes. This means that the port only discharges, loads, receives, and dispatches containers but not the bulk goods.

A port always needs to try to improve the container handling process to provide better service to the exporters and importers in a cost effective and efficient manner. It should also adopt state of the art technologies, modern equipment, and automate its operation.

The Chittagong port, country's prime seaport, in its pre-stage carried out all types of activities like handling of both full container load (FLC) and less then container load (LCL) in case of both export and import, and also the empty containers were also handled inside the port area. In 1985 the Seafarers Limited established the country's first Inland Container Depot (ICD) in Chittagong to handle only the empty containers. Latter, in 1988 the Ocean Containers Limited established the second ICD and in 1996 Shafi Motors Limited set up the third ICD in Chittagong. From 1985 to 1998 those ICDs handled only empty containers, removal of empty containers from port area, storage of empty containers and dispatch the empty containers to port for outbound shipment to the vessels.

In 1999 though Shafi Motors Limited got permission to receive and stuff export cargo but Iqbal Enterprise Limited (which got permission after the Shafi Motors Limited) handled first containerisation of export cargo and succeeded to send outbound boxes to Chittagong port. From 1999 to 2006 all ICDs were handling empty containers and export cargoes. The number of ICDs in the country increased after 1999.

At the end of the 2006 the National Board of Revenue (NBR) gave the ICDs permission to handle nine items of import commodities like rice, wheat, chick-peas, lentils, mustard, animal feed, raw cotton, waste paper, and scrap iron which ultimately started in 2007. Until August 2010-all the ICDs were given permission to handle nine items of import commodities at their premises. The NBR gave them permission for handling nine more items of commodities like fertiliser, onion, garlic, ginger, hard coke, carbon black, marble chips, and ball-clay in August 2020. Meantime, the NBR has increased the number of import items to 38 to handle at the privately owned ICDs.

However, in Mongla port, the country's second seaport, the scenario is not as usual. There is no private ICDs to handle export, import or empty containers and cargoes thus all these activities are carried out inside the port area. In Mongla port all import commodities are un-stuffed inside the port area while majority of the export cargos also stuffed inside port area and very few containers are stuffed inside the export processing zones. After un-stuffing of import containers the empty containers lay down inside the port area.


Until now all the LCL import cargoes are handled by the Chittagong Port Authority. The authority discharges LCL import containers from feeder vessels, keeps them at designated yards and un-stuff those boxes inside the sheds. After un-stuffing of LCL cargoes they keep LCL cargoes in respective sheds inside the port area. When consignee/ importer takes delivery order from respective main line operator or shipping agents, the port authority gives delivery of cargoes to the clearing and forwarding agents of the consignee/importers from respective sheds where all LCL Import cargo are lying after un-stuffing.


Very recently the Chittagong Port Authority decided to shift some of the LCL import cargo/containers to outside of port area which previously called as X/Y Shed. One private company namely Bay Cargo Centre, got initial permission to handle LCL import cargo/container outside the port premises. Port authority updated that if the LCL import cargo/container can be shifted from port area it will help whole trade to get LCL import cargo within the stipulated time. Thus the importers, mainly the garments owners will be able to save lead time without any delay. On the other hand, the port authority can divert the traffic of vehicles from inside the port area to the outside. It will also help to ensure security inside the port area as the new system will help to keep huge number of people outside as they presently enters to the port area to collect their LCL cargoes from respective sheds inside the port.

The members of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) who import maximum LCL cargoes welcome the new initiative to un-stuff LCL cargo outside of the port area. But their concern is whether the new system will lead to increase in cost or tariff. Considering the present world economic scenario, the BGMEA members are not in a position to pay any additional cost or tariff as they opined.

The shipping agents or box operators are also concerned regarding the possibility of cost hike when the new LCL cargo handling system comes into operation as they do not want to pay any additional tariff for the service. They also wants to remove their empty containers or boxes within stipulated time from the X/Y shed so that no additional storages charges can be realised as the cost is borne by the MLO/shipping agents/ box operators. Some MLO/ shipping agents also opined that it might also be a good initiative if LCL cargo can be un-stuffed in other ICDs as they already handle FCL containers to avoid creation of any monopoly. Apart from this, the sending of LCL containers to other depots will help the port to remain decongested which is being created due to entrance of huge number of vehicles and people there everyday.

Mohammed Abdullah Jahir is Chief Operating Officer (COO), Shipping & Freight Forwarding,

Saif Maritime Ltd.

[email protected]

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