Due to the rise in Covid-19 infections, the Bangladeshi government has imposed a week-long, strict, nationwide lockdown from the 1st July; this has now been extended until the 14th July and it looks very likely that it will be extended again till the end of July 2021. The number of Covid-19 patients with the highly infectious Delta variant, has increased rapidly in Bangladesh since it was first detected in April, and hospitals across the country have been struggling to cope with the sharp rise in patients. The army has been deployed alongside other law enforcement agencies to enforce lockdown. People are not allowed to leave their homes unless it is a medical emergency.

Bangladeshi exports are being hugely affected by the ongoing crisis in global container availability. Almost all major carriers are facing serious equipment shortages, and this is coupled with limited space available on vessels; vessel space constraints out of Bangladesh are further compounded by congestion at transshipment ports such as Singapore, Colombo and Port Klang. Thus carriers who do have equipment and space are charging premium rates, whilst others are simply unable to accept bookings. This all comes as demand is increasing from Western economies.

Consequently, the country’s inland container depots (ICDs), where most Bangladeshi exports are handled, are clogged with export containers that cannot ship. According to the Bangladesh Inland Container Depots Association (BICDA), the country’s 19 ICDs, can collectively store 10,000 TEU but currently there are over 14,000 TEU of exports boxes waiting for shipping in the ICD yards.

The export operation cycle as a whole has slowed exceptionally as the productivity of the ICDs declines. Usually, it takes 2-3 days to send a container from the ICDs to Chittagong port for loading, but currently the process is taking 7-10 days. The inability to ship export containers and the resulting congestion in the ICDs has caused a knock-on delay for trucks bringing cargo from exporters to the ICDs and they face long tailbacks as they wait to have their cargo unloaded ready for stuffing into containers.

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