A port official told bdnews24.com on Friday that the GBX incident might seem insignificant, but could lead to a security threat.
“Theft or any other unwanted incident on a ship will get huge foreign media coverage and damage the Chittagong port’s reputation as an international one,” he said, requesting anonymity.
“That’s why the shipping agents have been given the letter with warning and instructions,” he added.
The port authorities sent the letter to Bangladesh Shipping Agents’ Association on Feb 15 after five bottles of foreign alcoholic drinks were found in a GBX Logistics boat sent to a ship, MV OEL Lanka, on Feb 9.
In their letter, the port authorities asked the shipping agents to refrain of sending anyone other than authorised people to foreign ships, to inform the port’s radio control while sending a small vessel, and not to bring unauthorised or dangerous goods from foreign ships ashore in order to ensure national security.
The authorities also asked the agents to register the vessels sent to foreign ships for office work.
The ship’s chief watchman found the bottles of alcoholic drink in a bag from the boat when the boat’s sailor got on the ship.
The letter said there was no authorised representative of the agent on the boat, and such incidents raise the risk of theft or robbery on ships along with security concerns.
GBX Logistics, the local agent of international container shippers Hapag-Lloyd, is also accused of dodging millions in taxes and money laundering. The High Court is hearing a writ petition filed over the issue.
The port official who spoke to bdnews24.com on condition of anonymity said, “A boat bound for an anchored foreign ship must have authorised representatives of the agent. The shipping agents must follow the guidelines to ensure the port’s security. Otherwise, the port will lose admissibility on security ground.”
Shipping Agents’ Association President Ahsanul Huq Chowdhury told bdnews24.com the agents should be careful while sending people to foreign ships following the International Maritime Organisation or IMO Convention.
“Such an incident cannot be accepted in any way. The agents must have their representatives in boats sent to foreign ships,” he said.
He also said they would discuss the issue at an upcoming meeting of the association.