Charges of trucks, covered vans skyrocket
Riaz Uddin || BusinessInsider
Photo illustration: Business Insider Bangladesh
Charges of trucks and covered vans that carry export-import goods to and from the Chattogram port have more than tripled in recent days causing huge financial burdens on traders amid the coronavirus pandemic, industry insiders said.
Transporters blamed an ‘abnormal’ hike of fare on the container crisis that has forced trucks to wait for six to 10 days. Also, high demand from exporters who want to ensure their goods reaching the port before Eid-ul-Azha holidays contributed to this fare hike.
A covered van is now charging between Tk 35,000 and Tk 40,000 ($410–$470) from Dhaka and Gazipur to the Chattogram port, up from Tk 12,000 to Tk 15,000 in normal time.
“We heard there is a huge container crisis, so our trucks have to wait up to 10 days for unloading of goods. This has created a crisis of trucks and fuelled the fare,” said Mokbul Ahmad, president of Bangladesh Covered Van Truck Transport Owners Association.
He said he has 40 trucks and covered vans, but he has only five for use now and the remaining are stuck at port. He hoped three trucks would come back by Saturday.
Fares vary based on the demand, he said citing that Saturday’s charge for a covered van was Tk 40,000.
Container congestion at various transshipment ports and increasing booking prices amid Covid-19 pandemic have created this chaotic situation. A huge number of containers stuffed with apparels and other products stockpiled at 19 Inland Container Depots across Chattogram, awaiting shipping.
Exporters are not sure as to when the backlog — caused due to the congestion in major China and USA ports for slow unloading activities there — will be cleared.
“We have hired a truck for Tk 65,000 on Wednesday to send our goods to Chattogram port, up from the maximum Tk 15,000 in normal time. Owners said trucks are not coming back from Chattogram,” said Yusuf Iqbal, a Dhaka-based garment exporter.
Leading bicycle exporter of Bangladesh said he had hired a truck for Tk 70,000 last week. “It is unbelievable...how businesses will survive,” he wondered.
Fazlul Hoque, managing director of Plummy Fashions and former president of BKMEA, said he has hired a truck for Tk 45,000 two days ago.
“We are in serious challenges as prices of everything, be it truck fare, shipping costs and raw materials have increased,” Hoque told the Business Insider Bangladesh.
He said truck fares go up ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Azha as the number of trucks gets reduced drastically because drivers go for vacation and law enforcers limit movement of trucks for paving the way for home-bound passengers during the holiday period.
Azim Mohammad Tofazzel Hossain Mazumder, another leader of truck and covered van owners association, said there is a huge shortage of trucks as most of 3,50,000 such vehicles are stuck at ports.
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association in a recent letter sent to the Chattogram Port Authority, Bangladesh Bank and the National Board of Revenue said that hundreds of trucks are stuck at ICDs because of lack of containers.