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‘Dangerous’ cargoes at Chattogram port: Row over unloading lingers

The shipping companies continue to face problems with their ‘dangerous cargo’ (DC) as the relevant authorities are yet to address the issue of unloading the same at the Chattogram port.

The Bangladesh Shipping Agents’ Association wrote twice to Chattogram Port Authority (CPA) and once to the Bangladesh Customs and the Bangladesh Navy officials in a span of 15 days to resolve the issue.

However, according to the chairman of the association Ahsanul Huq Chowdhury, none has responded ‘positively’ so far. Such indifference is forcing shipping companies to return many dangerous cargo-laden containers to the loading ports.

Meanwhile, several mainline shipping companies have decided not to carry dangerous cargo towards Chattogram port until the difference between customs and navy officials is over.

Following the Beirut blast, the CPA, being instructed by Bangladesh Navy, made mandatory the submission of undertaking by shipping companies that the DG (dangerous goods) containers will be removed from the port yard within 72 hours after their unloading.

It was also ordered that the containers, which carry refrigerant and air-conditioning gases, should be directly delivered to the importers’ premises instead of discharging at port yard.

On the other hand, the Bangladesh Customs wants physical verification of such containers through unloading those at port yard.

“Due to these types of conflicting instructions coming from the authorities concerned directly related to DG cargo, containers cannot be discharged from vessels and are either being retained on board the vessels or returning to the port of loading,” Mr Chowdhury wrote.

Continuation of this situation will create a negative impact on vessel operators in accepting dangerous cargo-laden containers which will seriously hamper trade, he cited in the letters.

Mr Chowdhury told the FE on Friday that he submitted a letter to the three separate authorities last time on September 17, but there has been no response.

Only navy officials said they will attend if a meeting is convened by the port authorities, he said.

“The port chairman should make an initiative to resolve the crisis,” he said.

After the Beirut explosion, Mr Chowdhury disclosed, none in the world has put such an embargo like the Chattogram port.

He said the CPA should designate a separate yard for dangerous cargoes for delivery within a stipulated time instead of keeping them waiting for a long time.

Mr Chowdhury said the authorities are making vessel owners scapegoats instead of asking importers to sign an undertaking to take delivery of containers in time.

Earlier, on September 09, Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) president Sheikh Fazle Fahim wrote to the state minister for shipping to resolve the dispute through organising a stakeholder meeting.

Referring to Bangladesh Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Merchants Association, he wrote that some 25 containers of refrigerant and air-conditioning gases were sent back to Singapore which has created a paucity of the products in the market.

CPA chairman SM Abul Kalam Azad did not respond to a phone call for comment on this issue.
Source: The Financial Express

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