Bangladeshi apparel businessmen and exporters said that they will return to the port if Sri Lanka if they can ensure smooth services to them, media reported.
Before shifting to Singapore and India recently owing to the political and economic crises in Sri Lanka, shipping stakeholders have said, a large chunk of Bangladeshi container trades used to avail transshipment at Colombo Port.
Media also reported citing a discussion at the Bangladesh Shipping Agents’ Association office in Chattogram on Tuesday, Sri Lanka Ports Authority Chairman Keith D Bernard said the Colombo authorities are working around the clock to normalise the situation.
“We may be going through tough times economically and politically, but we did not stop,” he said.
“We want Bangladeshi traders to use Colombo Port more. We have already decided to give preferential anchoring facilities to Bangladeshi feeder vessels at Jaya Container Terminal of the port.”
Syed Mohammad Arif, president of the Bangladesh Shipping Agents Association, said, “What our buyers want is more important than what shipping lines or traders want. They want smooth connectivity and faster shipment. That’s why the port authority should pay more attention to a reduction of cargo handling time.”
Around 40% of Bangladesh’s exports are shipped to foreign markets from Chattogram via Colombo Port.
The remaining 60% of export items are transported through Singapore, Malaysia’s Port Klang and Tanjung Pelepas. Operations at Colombo Port were suspended on 10 May this year as political clashes flared up across the island nation.
“We are now offsetting the crises,” said Sri Lanka Ports Authority Managing Director Upul Jayatissa as he elaborated on ongoing projects to expand the capacity of Colombo Port.
Mentioning the port as the “first choice”, Chattogram chamber Director Anjan Shekhar Das said the preference should meet with adequate benefits.