Speakers at a seminar on Monday suggested that the government make the port logistics system more efficient to lower cost of doing business and attract more investment in industries.
To this effect, they called for framing a 'National Logistics Policy' in order to make the port logistics management more resourceful and organised.
The suggestions came at a seminar on 'Efficient port logistic management & trade competitiveness of Bangladesh' hosted by the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) at its auditorium in Motijheel.
Shipping secretary Md Mostafa Kamal addressed the programme as the chief guest. Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) joint secretary Md Zafar Alam and Summit Alliance Port Ltd managing director Syed Ali Jowher Rizvi also spoke.
Policy Exchange Bangladesh chairman Dr M Masrur Reaz presented a keynote paper at the event with DCCI president Rizwan Rahman in the chair.
Mr Kamal said alongside Chattogram port, Mongla port has also started handling more containers while Payra port will come into full operation soon.
Abu Dhabi Ports has recently showed its interest to work in Bangladesh's port sector. It would be helpful for enhancing capacity of the ports, Mr Kamal noted.
Regarding logistic improvement, he said the government in recent past has invested a lot to make the ports more functional.
At the event, Mr Rahman said port logistics management is an important element of international trade competitiveness.
With the country's growing export, Chattogram port has become the world's 64th busiest but has been ranked as Asia's least efficient seaport, he added.
According to the World Bank, slow container handling, lower drafting capacity, inefficient port management, limited port yards, poor turnaround time and scarcity of modern equipment are retarding the port from being efficient.
The DCCI chief said, "If the infrastructural capacity of Chattogram port is increased, our cost of doing business will reasonably fall, resulting in better lead time, which lures more investors in the country."
Keynoter Dr Reaz said Bangladesh is ranked 100 in the Logistic Performance Index and 102nd in the Logistics Quality and Competence Index.
Terming Bangladesh's logistics cost one of the highest globally, he said sea and land ports here need modernisation to enhance the quality of regional connectivity and access to global market.
Absence of national logistics strategy, complex regulatory system, lack of effective policy intervention and inadequate private-sector participation are among the major challenges in efficient port logistic management, said Dr Reaz.
Putting emphasis on formulating a national logistics policy, he said many industrial zones will come into production in the coming decade and the ports' capacity is needed to increase for growing export items.
Meanwhile, Mr Alam said the CPA has been increasing its efficiency by adding modern equipment, broadening yard area and reducing lead time.
The CPA has initiated to increase the terminal draft of Chattogram port to accept larger vessels with a draught of up to 10 metres and a length of up to 200 metres.
Besides, Mr Rizvi said the country should have off-docks in the private sector in order to achieve the $100-billion export target.
DP World Bangladesh country director Shamim Ul Huq, Bangladesh Freight Forwarders Association president Kabir Ahmed and PSA International Private Ltd vice-president (group business development) Lee Peng Gee, among other, also spoke.