Unloading of imported bulk cargoes from vessels at the outer anchorage of the Chattogram port has remained suspended for the last three days until yesterday due to inclement weather resulting in rough seas and incessant rain.
Transport of these goods from Chattogram to different parts of the country through inland water routes also came to a halt on Saturday afternoon following two separate capsizing incidents that day.
The two lighter vessels were carrying raw sugar and wheat when one overturned in the Hatia channel and the other near Bhasanchar in Noakhali.
Though unloading of bulk cargoes from vessels berthed at the port’s main jetties has continued, the rains have slowed down the handling of perishable goods.
Lighter vessels used in unloading cargo from their bigger counterparts at the outer anchorage are unable to venture out.
This has left at least 35 large cargo vessels lying idle at the anchorage with their goods, which include food grains, sugar, salt, fertiliser, stone and industrial raw materials such as cement clinker, slag and steel scraps, said sources.
Water Transport Cell (WTC), a private organisation that operates a portion of the lighter vessels, said they were dealing with the unloading of 17 of the 35 vessels or some 6.5 lakh tonnes of goods.
Cargoes of the remaining vessels were to be unloaded using lighter vessels of some big industrial units like Meghna Group and Abul Khair Group.
In the last berthing meeting of the WTC on Saturday, more than 20 lighter vessels were allocated for carrying out the unloading of the 17.
But the operations were halted as the vessels failed to go out to the outer anchorage due to heavy rolling of waves in the sea, said Ataul Karim, an official of the WTC.
The WTC did not hold any berthing meeting on Sunday and Monday as the inclement weather had persisted.
About 40 lighter vessels loaded with about 55,000 tonnes of goods and bound for Narayanganj, Dhaka and other destinations remained stranded in the Karnaphuli river as the port authority barred bay crossings for the inclement weather.
The sea is very rough and cautionary signal number 3 has been kept hoisted for the past few days.
Such disruptions are increasing the time cargo vessels have to stay back at the outer anchorage.
MV Thor Magnhild, a bulk career with 54,400 tonnes of wheat, arrived at the outer anchorage on 5 August and started unloading from Wednesday.
The pace was slow and only 4,000 tonnes of wheat could be unloaded until Friday before heavy rolling of waves in the sea halted the activities entirely.
No unloading could be carried out in the past three days, according to Zahur Ahmad, director of the ship’s local agent Seacom Shipping Lines.
Had normal weather prevailed, the vessel could unload 4,000 tonnes of wheat per day, he said.
Another vessel, Niki C, is now anchored at a jetty of the port. Only 500 to 700 tonnes of its cargo of sugar could be unloaded every day for the past three days for the rain, he said.
Another 10 bulk cargo-carrying vessels berthed at the port’s jetties were continuously being unloaded of their goods, said Md Omar Faruk, secretary to Chattogram Port Authority, on being contacted by this correspondent.
Here unloading has been unaffected since the cargo comprised steel scrap, steel coil and machineries, which the rain could not damage, he added.
Source: The Daily Star