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Cargo vessel strikers’ meeting with CPA chairman ends without resolution

  • Published at 11:51 am October 22nd, 2020
Hundreds of lighter cargo vessels are stranded in Shitalakshya River following the third day of countrywide strike on Thursday, October 22, 2020 Dhaka Tribune

To press home their 11-point demand, the strike enforced by Bangladesh Water Transport Workers' Federation began at 12:01am on Tuesday

A two-hour meeting between the cargo vessel strikers and the Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) chairman has concluded without any agreement between the two sides.

CPA Chairman Rear Admiral SM Abul Kalam Azad met the leaders of the Bangladesh Water Transport Workers' Federation over the ongoing cargo vessel strike at around 3:30pm on Thursday, according to CPA Secretary Md Omar Faruk.

Leaders of the Bangladesh Noujan Sramik Federation, the Bangladesh Lighterage Sramik Union Chittagong, the Bangladesh Cargo Vessel Owners Association and the Inland Cargo Vessel Owners Association were set to join the meeting.

However, due to the  absence of some leading figures of some parties, the meeting ended without any resolution. 

“At the meeting, the CPA Chairman requested everyone to keep the country’s maritime ports operational for the sake of the country’s economy,” said the CPA Secretary.

“Complying with the request of the CPA Chairman, we have attended the meeting. However, the representatives of the Bangladesh Cargo Vessel Owners Association and Inland Cargo Vessel Owners Association did not join the meeting. The meeting ended without any result as we have not received any assurance from any quarter about the fulfillment of our legitimate demands,” said Nabi Alam, joint secretary of Bangladesh Water Transport Workers' Federation.

To press home their 11-point demand, the strike enforced by Bangladesh Water Transport Workers' Federation began at 12:01am on Tuesday.

Also read: Khalid: Cargo strike to end by Thursday, hopefully

967 vessels with 2.2m tons of goods stranded

As many as 967 vessels carrying a staggering 2.2 million tons of goods are stranded across the country due to the cargo vessel strike, according to Mahbub Rashid Khan, Executive Director of Water Transport Cell (WTC).

The total number includes 42 mother vessels laden with around one million tons of goods stranded at the outer anchorage of the country’s premier maritime port and 925 lighter vessels laden with 1.2 million tons stranded in 39 jetties across the country.

“There are around 20,000 cargo and passenger vessels across the country. However, passenger vessels have remained out of the purview of the strike. Around 200,000 cargo vessel workers are now enforcing the strike spontaneously,” said Nabi Alam.

Also read: Vessel owners: Lift strike before talks

Congestion at port and price hike

Transport of goods from Chittagong to regions around the country has been disrupted due to the strike, leading businessmen to fear that the cost of doing business might go up.

 “Apart from disrupting the transportation of raw materials and goods, the strike will lead to container and vessel congestion at the port. The import-export costs of goods will shoot up due to the overstay and the increase of turnaround time of the vessels,” said Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) President Mahbubul Alam.

Ahsanul Haque Chowdhury, president of Bangladesh Shipping Agents’ Association, said that an additional $10,000 to $15,000 has to be paid if a mother vessel overstays by a day.

“Apart from wastage of foreign currency, the country’s image in the maritime world will be tarnished due to the strike. That’s why the issues must be resolved as soon as possible,” he said. 

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