Vol. 5 Num 180 Thu. November 25, 2004  
Front Page

Mongla port faces govt neglect
Top and important posts lying vacant for months

The country's second seaport Mongla has been subject to negligence by the authorities concerned with its top post lying vacant for the last four months and many other important positions handled by non-professionals.

After the contractual job of MK Alam, chairman of the Mongla Port Authority (MPA), ended on July 19 this year, Mosharraf Hossain, member (finance) of MPA, was made chairman in-charge of the port authority.

On October 21, Mosharraf went on leave preparatory to retirement (LPR) and the charge of acting chairman was then given to Nepal Chandra Sarker, a joint secretary of the Ministry of Shipping stationed in Dhaka.

But Sarker left for Sweden on October 30 to participate in a month-long training programme leaving the key position vacant.

Member (Engineering) of MPA, Ruhul Amin, is now chairman in charge.

Sources said the shipping ministry had recommended extension of the job of MK Alam for another two years but the Ministry of Establishment did neither respond to the suggestion nor appoint a permanent chairman.

Shipping Secretary Ismail Zabihullah, however, told The Daily Star that he had requested the establishment secretary to appoint a new chairman for the port authority. He hopes the appointment will be made soon.

After the retirement of Member (Finance) Mosharraf Hossain, the charge was given to Capt Azizul Hasan, member (operations), but he was transferred to Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation as its director (technical).

Now only Member (Engineering) Ruhul Amin is working while the other two positions of MPA members remain vacant. Abu Tayeb, chief engineer of the mechanical department, is now acting as member (finance).

Sources said there is no suitable person to take charge of the finance and audit department or the harbour and conservancy department of the MPA.

The post of vice-chairman of Mongla Dock Labour Board has also been lying vacant for more than a year. Daud Ali, chief of planning department, is now looking after the work in addition to his regular duties.

Mongla Port, which has been plagued with various problems including high goods handling charges and frequent labour unrest, saw a drastic decline in berthing of oceangoing ships in the last few years.

On average 300-350 ships anchor at the port annually, less than half the number of vessels anchoring at the port during 1980s and early 90s.

Now the port jetty often lazes for weeks together without any ships. Moreover, labour unrest sometimes keeps the vessels unloaded for several days.

The port labourers and stevedores have been protesting various steps taken by the government to reduce loading and unloading charges of goods at the port and improve its efficiency in management and operations.

The shipping secretary said the government is trying to persuade businessmen to use the port facilities and increase the berthing of vessels.