Chattogram Port under threat

Bangladesh’s main seaport at Chattogram is under threat of falling into foreign hands. Vested quarters are hatching multi-faceted conspiracies against the port ignoring the interest of the country. Because of the conspiracies, the port is turning into one of the riskiest ports in the world. Besides, the channel of the port is getting narrow resulting in frequent accidents.

Experts say, the channel of Chattogram port is now considered the riskiest one in the world. The ecosystem of River Karnafuly is also at severe risk. In this circumstance, the port may face major disaster any time. It can be mentioned that oil tanker MT Burgan and Express Mahananda had collided at the port recently. Fortunately, the accident occurred while the oil tanker was empty and sailing off the port. It could result into a major disaster had the ship been loaded with oil during the collision.

According to port officials, collisions between ships are taking place frequently due to the narrowness of the port channel. Besides, disobeying the rules of the port by two foreign companies-- PSA International Pte Ltd and Svitzer—is also responsible for the accidents. Of them, the PSA International Pte Ltd is a Singaporean company, which is blacklisted in Sri Lanka and different other countries.

According to the port laws, for the safety of the port, pilotage service is mandatory for foreign vessels. But, none of the vessels of the PSA International Pte Ltd and Svtizer use the pilotage service and that is why accidents or collisions are taking place at the port often. The laws of the port also do not allow any foreign vessel to use the jetties at Maheshkhali. They should use the private jetties as other foreign vessels do. But the vessels of the PSA and Svtizer are using the jetties at Maheshkhali violating the laws of the port. A section of high-officials of the port are letting those two companies enjoy the facilities, which is also another reason of putting the port at risk.

Despite being a recreational centre at the Chattogram Port, the Boat Club area has now turned into a mini-trading zone to serve the interest of two foreign companies--one of them is a Singaporean company named PSA International Pte Ltd and the other company is Svitzer. The PSA came back into operation with a corruption plan centring the Bay terminals. It has submitted a proposal, which if implemented, will destroy the Chattogram Port. One of the officials of the PSA International Pte Ltd, who is a Bangladeshi national, is controlling the entire Aziz Court in Chattogram. He has been aiding a Chinese man named Mr. Meng to eat up the port. As part of the process to eat up the port, the PSA International Pte Ltd is trying to get control of the terminal.

It is alleged that if they become successful, the Bangladesh government will have to purchase all port equipment at high price from the PSA company. Not only that, the PSA International Pte Ltd will buy the port after is completed by the Bangladesh government. As part of the process, the PSA International Pte Ltd has already completed acquisition of a container terminal.

On the other hand, the Chattogram Seaport is being used for Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) thereby risking the port as LNG is considered red category explosive. Accordingly, the LNG carrying ships are also marked red category as a slight spark could lead to a massive explosion. According to sources, both the PSA International Pte Ltd and the Svitzer have been awarded with the contract to import LNG, and the permission was given to them without receiving any feasibility study from them.