Shipping Department Director General Nizamul Haque on Wednesday ordered authorities concerned to issue waiver certificates – the documents containing shipment details – to ocean-going foreign-flagged cargo vessels transporting goods to and from Bangladesh within three working days after application.
Waiver Certificate Issuance
The decision came from a Shipping Department meeting at its office in the capital over the complexities in waiver certificate issuance, at which local and foreign shippers and other stakeholders were present, participants said. “There was an ambiguity among stakeholders over the flag protection laws. In the meeting, all the parties were present. Instructions have been made to issue all the pending waiver certificates by today [Wednesday],” Nizamul Haque said.
The government enacted the Bangladesh Flag Vessels (Protection) Act to give priority to Bangladeshi flag vessels in the transportation of goods on international sea routes. As per the law, 50% of the total cargo transported by ships is mandated to be carried on domestic flagged and state-owned ships. If the space is not vacant, the shipping agents have to obtain the mandatory waiver certificate as per the provisions of the law.
According to the Bangladesh Flag Vessels (Protection) Rules, foreign ship owners or their representatives are required to apply online to the Mercantile Marine Office before loading goods on their ships. The Mercantile Marine Office is supposed to issue the certificates in the next three working days. Foreign-flagged vessels, however, were facing unusual delays in obtaining waiver certificates for the past few weeks. Hence, they were asking for cooperation from the stakeholders and authorities concerned.
“The complexity in weaver certificate issuance was resolved in Wednesday’s meeting. A direction has also been provided to issue the certificates on time in future. We expect the decisions will be implemented accordingly,” Bangladesh Shipping Agents Association Chairman Syed Mohammad Arif said. According to the Bangladesh Container Shipping Association, at least 12 ships on the Chattogram-Colombo route have failed to depart the Chattogram Port on time, resulting in a fine of $10,000-12,000 per day for each ship, for the unusual delays in obtaining waiver certificates.
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