Colombo-bound container vessel impounded at Ctg port

29th July 2021

A Colombo-bound vessel carrying export containers has been kept impounded at the Chattogram port's outer anchorage in Bangladesh for the last eight days by Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) following a High Court order.

The vessel's local shipping agent said a local importing firm has filed an admiralty suit against the Liberian flagged MV MSC Kymea and 13 others centring a dispute over some cargo provided by a supplier, the Daily Star reported.

The vessel has nothing to do with the issue, added the agent.

The development comes at a time when a huge quantity of Colombo-bound export-laden containers has piled up at Bangladesh's private inland depots.

The backlog resulted from an acute shortage of empty containers and space shortages in mother vessels at transhipment ports like Colombo.

In an attempt to expedite the shipment of export cargo, mainly readymade garment, the CPA has recently started giving Colombo-bound vessels priority berthing at the port.

It has also allowed a few new vessels to ply the Chattogram-Colombo route.

MSC Kymea was about to leave on July 20 after loading 1,080 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) of export-laden containers when the High Court order came.

CPA Harbour Master Captain Zahirul Islam said the vessel was immediately impounded.

Sources said a Dhaka-based importing firm, RB Con-cast and Rerolling Mills (Pvt), filed the admiralty suit.

According to the case statement, the RB had signed a contract with UK-based supplier SRP World on February 4 this year to import 500 tonnes of heavy melting scrap.

MSC Kymea arrived at the port on July 17 with the scrap in 23 containers. However, the RB was unable to receive the goods.

This was because Chattogram-based HM Steel Industry was asked to take the delivery instead of the RB, said the case statement.

The shipping company, Geneva-based Mediterranean Shipping Company SA, said the supplier SRP had mentioned HM as the importer at the loading port.

Contacted, Ajmir Hossain Chowdhury, head of operations and logistics of the shipper's local agent, said they came to know that the RB had opened the letter of credit (LC).

The dispute is between the importer and supplier but the importer filed the suit against the vessel, he said.

Each day that the vessel overstays results in additional operational costs of around $20,000, he said.

Uncertainty prevails over whether the export cargoes the vessel is carrying can be timely shipped, said Chowdhury.

A connecting mother vessel has already left the transhipment port on July 26 without taking those containers while the next mother vessel is scheduled to leave next week and chances are that too could be missed, he feared.

He said they were contacted with the ship's international P&I (protection and indemnity) Club to avail a High Court bail paying a bank guarantee of Tk 2.61 crore, the LC value claimed by the plaintiff.

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