Spotlight News 2/21/2017

Container Backlog at Chittagong Port in Bangladesh Leads to Severe Congestion and Shipping Delays

The Chittagong Port Authority (CPA), which oversees Bangladesh’s largest seaport, raised storage rent in an attempt to speed up the movement of cargo through the facility and mitigate severe congestion and shipping delays. Bangladeshi importers claim that the delays are caused by insufficient container handling equipment and infrastructure at the port, as well as prolonged examination of cargo by customs officers. The CPA, however, blames clearing and forwarding agents for not expeditiously requesting the clearance of cargo, leaving a backup of several thousand containers well beyond Chittagong Port’s capacity. CPA figures indicate that the port is currently holding over 3,000 TEUs beyond its stated capacity, with many containers held outside designated storage areas.

BSI has reported on delays and other business continuity concerns at Chittagong Port in recent weeks. A strike by lighter vessel workers last week caused significant disruption to the offloading of cargo at the facility. In previous instances of port strikes in Bangladesh, BSI has noted consequent delays in cargo movement as significant container backlogs build up.

Investigation Finds Significant Use of Child Labor, Including Migrant Children, in Apparel Sweatshops in Istanbul Producing Clothes With Major Western Trademarks

An investigation by a Turkish newspaper found that apparel factories and sweatshops in Istanbul producing clothes with major Western brand trademarks employ migrant and refugee children. The investigation targeted factories and sweatshops in Küçükpazar, in Fatih district on the European side of Istanbul. Journalists found children as young as ten working in these sweatshops, generally for twelve hours a day in cramped conditions without any air conditioning or proper ventilation. Most of the children could not speak Turkish, with many being refugees from Syria or Iraq. Sweatshop workers said that children employed at the illicit factories generally earned between 400 and 600 lira ($110 to $165) monthly. A significant proportion of the goods produced in Küçükpazar sweatshops is destined for export to Iraq. 

The investigation revealed that many of the clothes produced by children in these sweatshops bore the trademarks of major Western brands, although whether these goods were produced on behalf of those brands or were counterfeit is unclear. BSI has reported on previous investigations that have found that major Western brands contracting with factories in Turkey utilize child labor, including Syrian refugee children. An estimated 400,000 of the 1.3 million Syrian children in Turkey are believed to be employed, generally in the country’s southern provinces along the Syrian border or in Istanbul.

Egyptian Authorities Cooperate with Libyan Officials to Seize 75 Million Tramadol Pills From Containers at Port Said, Egypt and Misrata, Libya

Egyptian authorities seized over 25 million tablets of tramadol, a prescription opioid and common drug of abuse in the Middle East, from two containers at East Port Said on the Suez Canal. The shipment originated in India and was ultimately destined for the port of Mersin in Turkey. Beyond the tramadol pills, the shipment also contained 100 cartons carrying nearly 200,000 ampoules of liquid tramadol. Egyptian authorities said they had arrested seven Egyptian nationals in connection with the incident. Egypt’s interior ministry also cooperated with Libyan authorities in the seizure of a further 50 million tramadol pills at the port of Misrata in Libya. Details on the origin or destination of the latter shipment were not available.