Vol. 5 Num 698 Wed. May 17, 2006  

Ctg Port Battle
Akbar agreed to stop privatisation
Says Mohiuddin

Chittagong City Corporation (CCC) Mayor ABM Mohiuddin Chowdhury yesterday said the withdrawal of his entire agitation programme followed the shipping minister's assurance that the government move to privatise the new mooring container terminal (NCT) will be stopped.

The mayor said this while making his stance on the NCT privatisation issue clear at a news briefing in the CCC auditorium yesterday afternoon.

However, the mayor said his movement is in the greater interest of the nation and it has not ended.

Unless everything went on as per the shipping minister's assurance of stopping the privatisation process he will enforce more vigorous agitation programme, cautioned the mayor.

Mayor Mohiuddin Chowdhury, in an apparent retreat from his previous stance, called off the continuous blockade of Chittagong port, scheduled to start on May 19, and a daylong strike at the port scheduled for May 18.

The mayor said Shipping Minister Akbar Hossain first sent him a letter Monday afternoon and later made a phone call to him around 8:00pm.

In both the letter and the phone call the shipping minister urged the city mayor to withdraw the agitation programme and to hold talks to solve the crisis.

"The minister phoned me once again around 9:30pm and after a long and heated debate on the issue the minister at last assured me of stopping the privatisation," said the Chittagong city mayor adding that it was only then he agreed to call off the entire agitation programme.

"But, I will take to the street once again if the commitment is not kept," he said.

"We had and still have every thing prepared to make our movement a success," he added.

Besides, while calling off the programmes he also considered the huge losses the businessmen feared to suffer during the strike and blockade, said the mayor.

The mayor said he held meetings with experts and others concerned with the port operation and has already prepared a draft on how to make the new handling process efficient.

He hoped that the proposed talk will start soon.

Meanwhile, fresh tension was brewing in the city over announcements of holding two rallies at the same place and time today.

Mohiuddin is scheduled to address, as chief guest, a pre-scheduled rally of Chittagong Dock Bandar Sarbadaliya Sramik Karmachari Oikya Parishad on the Dock Sramik Booking Office premises at 3:00pm today.

Fisheries and Livestock Minister Abdullah Al Noman is also scheduled to address, as chief guest, another rally announced by Jatiyatabadi Sramik Dal, a front organisation of the ruling BNP, at the same venue at the same time.

Referring to this, Mohiuddin at the news briefing called for postponement of the Sramik Dal rally.

Otherwise, he warned to give a 'befitting reply' to any bid to counter his rally.

Replying to a question Mohiuddin said though the agitation programmes were called off the rally requires holding to make the people clear about his stance and the reason for the withdrawal of the programmes.

Among others Gano Forum Chittagong unit President Advocate Kafil Uddin, CPB Chittagong city President Mrinal Chowdhury, Islami Front Chittagong unit President Professor Mamtaz Uddin and Awami League Chittagong (north) district unit General Secretary Moslemuddin Ahmed also replied to the queries of journalists at the briefing.