© Hryhorii Bondar

Factories in Bangladesh face supply chain delays after train services were suspended on Sunday as Bangladesh Railway staff refused to work overtime, due to a payment dispute.

Container numbers have been building up in both Dhaka and Chittagong inland container depots (ICDs).

In Dhaka ICD, some 1,704 teu of full and empty containers have been stuck for four to five days, while in Chittagong, some 1,510 teu has been waiting for more than two weeks, according to officials.

The boxes contain export cargo, as well as raw materials for domestic garment manufacturing, which is expected to lead to production delays at factories.

Rafayet Ullah, a senior official in a garment factory, said: “The delay in getting raw material means delay in both production and shipment.”

A senior official at Chittagong-based GBX Logistics said the export containers waiting in Dhaka ICD would miss their designated feeder vessels in Chittagong, as well as the mother vessel in transhipment ports, causing further delays.

Mahbubul Alam, president of the Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI), confirmed the delay was causing production disruptions in factories. He added: “If the shippers are forced to carry containers by road instead of trains, the transport costs will go up, raising the burden to end users.”

Ahamedul Karim Chowdhury, head of the ICD at Kamalapur, Dhaka, said inbound container volumes from Chittagong had fallen 30% in the past two months; 20ft boxes were facing delays of 16 days and 40ft containers 11 days.

“Exporters and importers are frustrated,” he added.

As well as the lack of manpower, there have been additional rail delays because of infrastructure work on tracks.

Bangladesh Railway’s eastern region has just 900 of the 1,700 staff required, including drivers and guards, meaning the railway relies on staff doing overtime. However, the ministry of finance recently cut certain pension benefits for rail staff, triggering the overtime strike and subsequent delays.

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