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Chittagong strike nearly over

Chittagong strike nearly over

Dhaka: The crisis over transporting containers to and from Chittagong Port is looking nearly resolved as as two of the five feeder-vessel operating companies agreed to continue operation following a tripartite meeting at the commerce ministry yesterday.

The other three parties are likely to come to a similar agreement today. Representatives of the feeder vessel operators have agreed to withdraw and refund the congestion surcharges, Commerce Minister Hafizuddin Ahmed said after the four-hour long meeting on Monday. 

The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has also agreed to withdraw its cases against the Chittagong Feeder Trade Committee (CFTC), he added. Local companies QC Shipping Line and HRC Shipping will continue loading and unloading of containers while the Oriental Express Lines, Sea Consortium, and Atlantic Container Line - all overseas companies - will start operation after signing rules of agreement between their chief executives and State Minister for Shipping Quamrul Islam. 

These companies stopped loading and unloading containers at Chittagong Port on Saturday following a High Court show-cause notice about the imposition of congestion surcharges.

"Gross misunderstanding was there among the stakeholders over imposition and payment of the additional surcharges but the misunderstanding has been resolved now," Hafizuddin said.

All the stakeholders have agreed that any additional charge for transporting freights will be paid by the service providers, not the exporters or importers, he added.

The misunderstanding arose when the CFTC imposed 130 dollars for each teu as a congestion surcharge from June 5 and realised around 210 crore takas.

The BGMEA termed this "irrational" and sought refund of the money. It filed a writ against imposition of the surcharge on June 9 and a contempt petition on August 31.   [05/09/06]