Chittagong Port Strike Leaves 65 Ships in Limbo

Friday, July 06, 2001
A strike at Bangladesh's main Chittagong port has left some 65 ships carrying 1.3 million tons of cargo stranded, officials said on Friday.

The 36-hour strike, (involving 20,000 workers), which kicked off early on Thursday, is over plans by a U.S. company to build a private container terminal, has halted cargo handling and deliveries.

The port, which is the nation's main cargo handling center, was also shut for 24 hours last Monday after industrial action against the proposed private terminal.

"We expect to resume full operations by Saturday morning," the port's terminal manager, said.

The government agreed in principle in 1997 to allow Stevedoring Services of America (SSA) to build a $500 million private terminal to speed up handling of containers at Chittagong.

The strikes have been organized by Chattagram Dock Bandar Sramik Karmachari Parishad, a group of 22 trade unions, including labor units from ruling and opposition political parties.

Trade unions oppose the terminal, saying it might threaten jobs. They also fear it could choke a river channel linking the port to the Bay of Bengal and pose a security threat to nearby airport and military installations.

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