Bangladesh is likely to ask Singapore to lift the embargo imposed on the transshipment of hydrogen peroxide through the latter’s port which has blocked the export of the chemical compound since the fire at a container depot in Chittagong.
At a meeting at the Department of Commerce on Wednesday, shipping agents said that if the hydrogen peroxide was packaged according to the IMDG (International Maritime Dangerous Goods) code and the port of Singapore lifted the restrictions, they would not would have no problem transporting the chemical.
The ministry had convened the meeting in the face of allegations by hydrogen peroxide exporters that the liners had failed to transport the cargo of chemicals from Bangladesh since the fire at BM Container Depot on June 4 that killed 49 people and in injured hundreds.
They said that due to the non-cooperation of the shipping agents, the export of hydrogen peroxide had totally stopped and therefore they were losing market.
Bangladesh exports hydrogen peroxide worth $22 million annually.
On the other hand, shipping agents said that after the fire at the depot, the Port of Singapore Authority (PSA) issued a notification on June 9 that the storage of hydrogen peroxide at the port had exceeded the limit and was therefore stopping transhipment through the port for the time being.
“To keep this stock level of DG (dangerous goods) within the safety limit prescribed by the authorities, we must take immediate action to stop accepting containers of hydrogen peroxide until the stock level return to normal,” the PSA said.
However, the Port Authority of Singapore has not yet lifted the restrictions and therefore no fresh containers filled with hydrogen peroxide are accepted at the port.
Shipping agents present at the meeting said transporting hydrogen peroxide through other regional transshipment ports such as Port Klang, Tanjung Pelepas and Colombo is not viable for liners given the market for export from Bangladesh and their deployment of ships.
Bangladesh Shipping Agents Association (BSAA) President Syed Mohammad Arif told the media that the export cargo of hydrogen peroxide from Bangladesh was responsible for a few minor incidents at various foreign ports in the past, because it was not properly packaged according to the IMDG code.
“If the exporters package the hydrogen peroxide properly and the Port Authority of Singapore lifts the restriction, we will definitely ship the chemical,” he said.
Bangladesh mainly exports hydrogen peroxide to India, Pakistan and Vietnam. Sending the cargoes from Singapore is possible, instead of other transhipment routes, he added.