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© Matyas Rehak

Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka has been hit by significant export delays and congestion after five of its six x-ray cargo screening machines failed.

Ove the past week, shipments faced several-day delays when technical problems stalled the screening process.

However, now four out of the six screening machines are thought to be working, but the airport has extended the audit period for the scanners until Monday.

“Dhaka has become congested,” said one forwarder. “Not only are we struggling to get shipments on the aircraft, but now we are struggling to get shipments from the warehouses after the airport stopped goods coming in. There is quite a backlog.”

Expo Freight in Bangladesh noted: “DAC airport is under pressure, as the RA3 scanner is causing huge congestion.”

It explained the scanners are used for courier and fresh and dry cargo, and “a good number of shipments are piled up in [the export cargo] area for scanning”.

Normal screening is expected to resume next week.

Bangladesh has seen its production levels resume, but one source said retailers had been running late with orders and were now rushing to get them to European and US markets in time for Christmas, but had faced high prices and congestion.

Expo Freight said capacity from passenger airlines was expected to decrease over the coming months, causing rates to increase again.

“There is cargo pressure in Dhaka airport cargo village and space is getting tighter day by day, due to lack of capacity considering demand,” it added.

The country saw export earnings from clothing products rise by 2.58%, year on year in August, the second consecutive month of growth, after seeing a sharp decline between March and June. Total export earnings increased by 4.3%.

“Export performance is better than expected. [A] good sign was the resilience that protected the apprehended collapse in earnings,” Dr Zahid Hussain, former lead economist of World Bank, Dhaka, told the Dhaka Tribune.

He said work orders had resumed after cancellations and also pointed to growth in new exports, such as PPE, pharmaceuticals and jute.

Jute, used for some textiles, has seen prices rise to record levels this week after poor weather affected the harvest. Bangladeshi associations have urged the government to impose an export duty of $250 per tonne to discourage exports. Bangladesh is the world’s second-biggest exporter of jute.

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