Frequent accidents while helpers drive vehicles inside Ctg Port
About a month ago, an army team was patrolling inside the port when a cargo truck hit the patrol car at the junction of General Cargo Berth (GCB) and Chittagong Container Terminal (CCT) , wounding seven soldiers.
Shortly after, it was discovered that the assistant or assistant driver was driving the vehicle at the time of the incident.
What usually happens is that after entering the port area, the truckers leave the port handing over the vehicles to their assistants because it takes a long time to take delivery of the goods.
It was not the only accident caused by assistants driving trucks inside the port. A total of 15 such accidents have occurred in the past 2 years, killing at least 8 people and paralyzing many others for life.
Port security has become increasingly vulnerable as unskilled attendants continue to drive cargo vehicles through restricted and busiest areas of the port, according to the Chittagong Port Authority.
About 92% of the country’s import and export trade passes through the port of Chittagong.
Some 25-30,000 people enter the port every day, including cargo handling workers, C&F agents, shipping agents, freight forwarders, customs officers, terminal operators, berth operators, vehicle drivers and port personnel.
Nearly 7,000 vehicles, including trucks, covered vans and prime movers, enter the port premises daily for various purposes, such as transporting goods to and from the port.
Other types of vehicles, including cranes, criss-cross the port yards and the jetty handling containers and transporting staff and officials. In addition, export cargo containers arrive at the port from 19 Private Inland Container Depots (ICDs).
Needless to say, a little carelessness can lead to major accidents in such a busy place.
Chittagong port officials said even an accident can turn into a huge safety issue for the port. There is no way to avoid it as a simple accident. If a family takes legal action because of an accident, it becomes a safety issue.
“Vehicles driven by assistant drivers are responsible for most accidents and fatalities. This creates a negative impact on port safety and security,” said Chittagong Port Director (Security), Lt. Col. Mostafa Arif-ur Rahman Khan, adding that it is extremely worrying that truck helpers are using port yards as a training ground.
The port of Chittagong adheres to the ISPS code (International Ship and Port Facility Security). Since 2004, the port has been gradually implementing the code.
To ensure security in accordance with the code, the port authority has registered about 1 lakh people with biometric identification to enter the port. Among them there are about 80,000 drivers and assistants.
In developed seaports around the world, container delivery activities do not take place inside the port as it does in Chittagong Port. Moreover, the port of Chittagong takes more load than its capacity.
After the army patrol team was injured, port security issued a verbal order on July 25 forbidding drivers to leave port premises until goods were delivered.
The move has agitated drivers and assistants. They protested by suspending vehicle traffic. Delivery operations were suspended for several hours, creating long traffic jams on the roads.
Faced with protests, the port authorities were forced to reverse this decision. However, the authorities have indicated that a notice will be issued in this regard within a week.
According to transport owners, drivers and helpers, it takes 10 to 28 hours for vehicles to load or unload shipments at the port and there is no opportunity for drivers to rest, eat and carry out the work required at the port.
Chowdhury Zafar Ahmed, Secretary General of the Bangladesh Covered Van-Truck Prime Mover Goods Transport Owners’ Association, said, “There is no limit to the time it will take for vehicles to leave the port with goods. The drivers are therefore obliged to go out with their accomplices. However, this is not good for port security. We expect the goods to be delivered promptly after entering the port.