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Vessel capsize on Passur Channel poses threat to Mongla

SM Kamal Hossain . Khulna
25 Nov 2021 00:00:00 | Update: 25 Nov 2021 01:59:57
Vessel capsize on Passur Channel poses threat to Mongla
Ship sinks in Passur Channel under Mongla Port with coal– File photo

Continued capsize of freight-carrying vessels on Passur Channel is posing threats to the country’s second-largest seaport Mongla Port when the port saw anchorage of a record number of merchant ships in the past two years after a long lean period.

At least five lighter ships and locally made bulkhead vessels sank on the Passur Channel in the past eight months and the maritime operators find it a threat to the port when activities of the port are gaining momentum.

Mongla Port Authority said 970 merchant vessels anchored at the port in the past two years, which is the highest in 70 years.

Sheikh Fakhar Uddin, harbour master of the seaport, said, “All five of these vessels, which sunk in the past few months, were not authorised to transport freights under the Bangladesh Shipping Act and they were illegally transporting goods. In most of the cases, we came to know about these unregistered vessels after the accidents took place.”

“Not only the port authority, but also the importers, shipping agents, and all other parties involved, should act responsibly to use the port facilities abiding by the rules,” he added.

Mainul Hossain, vice-president of Mongla Lighter Workers Association, told The Business Post, “Hundreds of unfit, unauthorised vessels are being used to transport goods from the outer anchorage to the port without any intervention from the authority. That is why the number of accidents is rising at the port.”

Inspector of the Department of Shipping in Khulna Abul Kashem said two-third of the vessels existing in the country are registered.

“As the number of merchant vessels docking at the port is increasing, we are encouraging the unauthorised vessels to register under the Bangladesh Shipping Act,” he added.

Badrul Hasan Liton, a director of the Department of Shipping, said that they just authorise vessels based on their fitness and compatibility. “We are not the only responsible agency to take actions against unauthorised vessels. If the law enforcement agencies, Coast Guard, Mongla Port Authority and Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority work simultaneously, it would be easier to handle the situation,” said the official.

“They can file cases under the Marine Court against these unauthorised vessels for illegally transporting goods from the port. It is difficult for us to monitor this large number of vessels,” he added.

Denying his comments about the shared responsibility, joint director of BIWTA, Ashraf Hossain, told The Business Post, “We are only responsible for collecting remittance from the vessels and their owners. We are not authorised to take actions against these unregistered vessels, but they are.”

On February 26, a government-owned cargo ship named MV BB-1148 sank in the Passur River near Mongla Port with 700 tonnes of coal. It took about 18 days to salvage the cargo.

On March 31, a lighter ship MV Ifsiha Mahin got stuck with a shoal in the Poshur channel and later sank with 700 tonnes of coal.

On October 8, cargo ship MV Deshbandhu carrying fertiliser got stuck with a shoal at Kanainagar area of Pashur channel while going to Jashore. When an attempt was made to release the ship from there, it tilted and sank in a moment.

On October 9, another cargo ship, MV Beauty Lohagora-2, carrying 1,200 tonnes of stones, got stuck with Dublar Char while going to Khulna. The cargo sank at the Fairway Buoy area near the port.

On November 18, MV Fardin-1 sank in the river with 370 tonnes of coal.