Colombo Crisis Drives Shipping Lines To Alternative Routes

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The ongoing political chaos in Sri Lanka, shipping lines are opting for transshipment routes that avoid the port of Colombo for commodities transfer to and from Chattogram, says an article published in TBS News.

Transport decreased significantly

The major shipping lines are now turning to India, Singapore, and Port Kelang.

Meanwhile, feeder vessel owners that continue to utilise Colombo port have reported that the volume of goods transported through the port has declined dramatically, and that it may continue to decline in the future.

Due to recent political instability in Sri Lanka, Colombo port was briefly closed on May 10th. 

Five Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) mother ships docked at Ennore Port in India after being unable to dock at Colombo port.

Five mother vessels

Ajmer Hossain Chowdhury, head of operations and logistics at MSC, told The Business Standard, “We have diverted five mother vessels of our company, which were heading towards Colombo port, to India. From there we shipped the goods to their various destinations.”

Reduced transporting goods

On the Chattogram-Colombo route, HR Lines, a subsidiary of the Karnaphuli Group, operates eight journeys with four feeder vessels, transporting around 9,000 containers every month. 

Due to the economic crisis and political unrest in Sri Lanka, the business cut freight transport on this route in half.

HR Lines’ HR Farha is set to depart Chattogram port for Colombo on May 15, according to a senior official (Sunday).

The ship normally transports around 1,200 containers, but until Saturday, it had only received bookings for roughly 600. 

Bookings were down due to the Sri Lankan crisis as well as the Eid holidays.

On the Chattogram-Singapore-Port Kelang-Chattogram route, HR Line now has two additional container vessels.

Shallowness of depth

Ships with a depth of more than 9.5 metres are unable to approach jetties at Chattogram port due to the shallow depth. 

As a result, cargo are first transshipped by feeder vessels from Chattogram to Sri Lanka, Singapore, and Malaysia, and then by mother vessels to the target countries.

Containers carrying imported products also pass through the transshipment ports and arrive in Chattogram port.

Direct shipment from Chattogram to Europe has lately begun, however the number of commodities sent this route is relatively limited.

Transportation of goods

The port of Colombo is used to ship 40% of Bangladesh’s exports from Chattogram.

The remaining 60% of products are exported via Singapore, Malaysia’s Port Klang, and Tanjung Pelepas.

Rakibul Alam Chowdhury, vice president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), said the ongoing violence in Sri Lanka has been hampering the smooth transportation of goods. So buyers are using alternative routes such as Singapore, China and other ports to pick up goods. 

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Source: TBS News

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