A Liberian ship leaves Ctg port after paying a fine of Tk72 lakh

After being held at Chattogram port for two days, the Liberia-flagged ship X-press Lhotse has left after paying a fine of Tk72 lakh.

The ship left for Colombo port at midnight on Thursday (May 16) with containers of 1,450 TEU (twenty foot equivalent unit) of export goods.

The ship was scheduled to leave on Wednesday. However, it was not allowed to leave as it failed to pay Tk 7,250,750 in fines imposed by the Mercantile Marine Office for non-compliance at various times.

The Marine Office said X-press Lhotse previously transported goods from Chattogram port without obtaining an exemption certificate, in violation of the Bangladesh Flag Vessels (Protection of Interest) Act. Its shipping agent, Sea Consortium, was also fined several times for this.

Captain AS Chowdhury, the managing director of the Sea Consortium, said the two-day delay has caused them a loss of $40,000 in charter rental costs.

The ship would deliver goods to mother ships bound for Europe and America at the Colombo port on May 19, he said. However, there are now concerns about missing the mothership.

“Punishing foreign flagged vessels on the pretext of violating exemption certificates and detaining them is unjust. Abuse of the law to favor one party endangers the operations of foreign-flagged vessels,” he added.

According to the Bangladesh Flag Vessels (Protection of Interests) Act 2019, 50% of goods carried by ships must be carried on domestic vessels.

However, if there is a lack of space on local ships, foreign freight forwarders must obtain mandatory permission to transport the remaining goods.

Captain Sabbir Mahmud, chief officer of the Mercantile Marine Office, said the ship’s agent had been warned several times about irregularities. This time, non-payment of the fine and irregularities led to the detention of the ship.

“Permission to leave the port was granted after paying the fine,” he added.

According to data from container shipping lines, nearly 90 feeder ships operate from Chattogram port to transshipment ports such as Colombo, Singapore, Port Klang and Tanjung Pelepas. Among them, eight are domestic ships, while the rest are foreign-flagged ships.