Trailer operators continue indefinite strike

Ctg port faces largest ever container congestion

Our Correspondent . Chittagong

Chittagong Port, the premier sea port of the country, on Thursday experienced the largest ever container congestion in its history due to the indefinite strike enforced by Chittagong prime mover trailer operators.
The trailer operators under the banner of Chittagong Prime Mover Trailer Malik-Sromik Oikkya Parishad went on the strike on Monday morning, demanding suspension of the activities of two ‘axle load control centre’ on Dhaka-Chittagong highway.
The strike caused huge disruptions to the port’s operational activities, badly affecting the country’s exports.
Several thousand export containers got struck in 16 private inland container depots in Ctg, said the port sources.
They also kept container carrying from Chittagong and Mongla ports suspended from Monday. Container carrying to and from Chittagong Port on roads was suspended on Thursday for the fourth consecutive day of the strike.
Chittagong deputy commissioner Md Shamsul Arefin sat in a discussion with the trailer operator leaders at local circuit house on Thursday afternoon, but the two sides failed to reach any understanding.
Chittagong Prime Mover Trailer Malik-Sromik Oikkya Parishad member secretary Abu Bakar Siddiq told journalists that they will continue the strike till their demands are fulfilled as the meeting yielded no results.
Another transport owners’ association named Chittagong District Sarak Paribahan Malik Group announced that they will also go for indefinite strike from Saturday expressing solidarity with the trailer operators.
The association secretary general Abul Kalam Azad said they will keep suspended all the cargo carrying vehicles including covered vans and trucks from Sunday and all the passenger carrying vehicles from Monday for an indefinite period in Chittagong, Cox’s Bazar and the three hill districts of Rangamati, Bandarban and Khagrachhari if the trailer operators’ problems are not resolved.
Chittagong Port Authority sources said around 40,259 containers were stockpiled in the port yards on Wednesday exceeding its total capacity of storing 36,357 containers.
Around 24,000-28,000 containers remain at the port yards in normal time.
The port authority’s member (administration) Jafar Alam said the containers got stuck as the trailer operators suspended container carrying from the port in last four days.
A large number of export containers missed shipment in last four days as those could not reach at jetties in time, added Jafar.
Of the export goods, most were readymade garments, said port related sources.
Readymade garment exporters faced a big problem as they could not export their goods in time and get delivery of imported fabrics from the port.
BGMEA Chittagong chapter office secretary (in-charge) Abdul Aziz Chowdhury said 2,700 export containers missed shipment in Chittagong port in last four days. Of them, 90 per cent were loaded with readymade garments.
He said 6,500 loaded export containers got stuck at different private container depots while 4,218 imported containers at Chittagong Port. Most of the containers were loaded with RMG raw materials.
The trailer operators said Roads and Highways Department imposed fine on long vehicles at two `axle load control centres’ located at Gomti and Meghna Bridge on Dhaka-Chittagong Highway from September 24.
The vehicles have to pay Tk 2,000-12,000 as fine if they carry more than 33 tonnes, said the trailer operators.
They alleged that the RHD took the decision of imposing fine without any discussion with transport owners and workers.
The trailer operators said around 11,000 prime mover trailers run under the supervision of Chittagong Prime Mover Trailer Malik-Sromik Oikkya Parishad.

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