Port Authority Ctg to tighten fire safety rules


Establish guidelines for port users for prompt delivery of dangerous cargo

In order to reduce the risk of accidents, the Port Authority is developing a set of recommendations for Customs authorities and port users such as importers, trade bodies, shipping agents and freight forwarders involved in the handling of dangerous goods. Picture: star

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In order to reduce the risk of accidents, the Port Authority is developing a set of recommendations for Customs authorities and port users such as importers, trade bodies, shipping agents and freight forwarders involved in the handling of dangerous goods. Picture: star

Following the deadly fire at a private inland container depot earlier this month, the Chattogram Port Authority (CPA) has taken steps to strengthen fire safety measures, modernize storage of dangerous cargoes and speed up delivery .

This decision, which came after the explosion of BM Container Depot on June 4 which killed at least 48 people, aims to reduce the risk of accidents.

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Sources said the port authority is developing a set of recommendations for itself and stakeholders, including the customs authority and port users such as importers, trade bodies, shipping agents and freight forwarders. involved in the handling of dangerous cargoes.

In a meeting with stakeholders last Monday, APC officials discussed a set of recommendations relating to the import, handling, storage and delivery of hazardous cargo.

The CPA will notify stakeholders of the guidelines soon, a source said.

“This is part of our ongoing efforts in dealing with dangerous goods,” CPA (Traffic) Director Enamul Karim said.

One of the directives aims to oblige importers to remove dangerous goods within 72 hours of their arrival at the port.

Another recommended that customs authorities extend support to importers so they can secure shipments immediately after being unloaded from ships.

Currently, at least 257 containers of hazardous chemicals and other flammable materials are inside the port yard and hangars. Most of the cargo poses fire hazards in the country’s top seaport.

Port data showed the goods in the containers included hydrogen peroxide, sulfuric acid, thinner, sodium sulfate, methanol, ethylhexanol, potassium chloride, calcium carbide , nitric acid and calcium oxide.

Most of the goods remained in sheds and yards for years as importers did not receive the items for various reasons, including falling prices of goods in the local market, failure to present original documents to the supporting shipments and obtaining customs clearance reports, and their refusal to pay fines for discrepancies.

A day after the hell, the CPA wrote a letter to Chattogram Customs, asking them to immediately remove the materials through auction or destroy them.

On June 6, customs authorities auctioned off 30.5 tonnes of hydrogen peroxide imported four years ago.

The following day, panic spread among port officials and workers when smoke was seen billowing from an acid-laden container in a yard. The port authority immediately brought the situation under control.

Although the import and export of hazardous and flammable chemicals are small compared to the total foreign trade volume of Bangladesh, they are gradually increasing.

Over the past few years, Chattogram Customs has removed much of the dangerous goods that have been sitting in port yards for a long time, Karim said.

Among the recommendations brewing, the CPA will restrict the entry of anyone with fire pits, gas lighters and cigarettes into restricted areas.

He will initiate regular fire drills and firefighting training for port users in all hangars.

CPA is constructing a separate hangar, equipped with modern technology and facilities, for the storage of dangerous goods at no. 1 yard.

Under guidelines developed for port users, the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Association Bangladesh Shipping Agents (BSAA) will have to pressure their importing members to follow the rules.

Importers will need to follow the guidelines of the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code when reporting products.

Cargoes and containers must have dangerous goods stickers so they can be identified easily, a CPA official said.

Shipping agents and freight forwarders would ensure that no dangerous goods were transported in damaged containers, he said.

Permission from the Bangladesh Navy must be taken 24 hours before unloading such goods at the port, according to one of the recommendations.

The guidelines would require the customs authority to complete the auction of dangerous goods in the first auction instead of holding three auctions, to hold spot auctions and to take legal action against importers in the event of refusal prompt receipt of delivery.

BSAA Chairman Syed Mohammad Arif hailed the CPA’s initiatives.

All port users must cooperate to comply with international guidelines to reduce the risk of accidents, he also said.

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