In the wake of the ongoing political unrest in Sri Lanka, the operation and navigation of Colombo Port were restored yesterday after being suspended for two days, which brought temporary relief for shipping firms, exporters, and freight forwarders in Bangladesh.
About 50% of Bangladesh’s export cargoes pass-through this transshipment hub. Stakeholders predict that further suspension of transshipment activity will severely affect Bangladesh’s foreign trade sector, particularly exports. For example, Bangladesh exports a majority of apparel to Europe and the United States, which passes through four transshipment ports.
Chattogram port moved 2,85,464 TEUs of export-laden containers through these four transshipment ports over the past four months. Among them, around 48.7% used the port of Colombo. Feeder vessels operate through the Chattogram-Colombo route almost 30 to 35 times per month. In recent years, Bangladeshi apparel exporters have preferred using Colombo Port as it offers the shortest lead time and the lowest freight costs.
On Monday, the Lankan prime minister and cabinet resigned following nationwide violence, which led to two container terminals being on strike to stop cargo loading and unloading. As a consequence of this event, all vessel movement remained paused since Tuesday.
Sri Lanka Ports Authority expressed concern regarding the issue to the Ceylon Association of Shipping Agents. In a letter, 135 members of all shipping lines requested that operations be reopened.