Loading-unloading of goods from moored ships at Chattogram port has been halted from 6am Friday as lighter vessel workers called for an indefinite strike putting forward a five-point demand.
Transportation of goods from Chattogram port to other parts of the country remained suspended too due to the strike.
On Thursday, the lighter vessel workers announced the work suspension during a rally under the banner of "vessel workers of all levels," at the city's Banglabazar area.
The five-point demand includes removal of Chattogram Port chairman, removal of the officer-in-charge of Patenga police station, cancelling the lease of Charpara terminal used for the movement of lighter vessel workers, surveying the lighter vessels by going to Parkir Char and creating a safe harbour for lighter vessels by excavating the Sangu River estuary.
On 3 November, men of some leaseholders of Charpara terminal had beaten up some nine workers and the police didn't take any action against it, said Jashim Uddin, acting general secretary of Lighter Vessel Workers Union.
Protesting the incident, workers moved all the lighter vessels to Parkir Char and started using the Chinese Ghat to get on and off the vessels but the authorities evicted that terminal too, he said.
The Chinese wharf was also seized by the port authority on Thursday. Later, the enraged workers staged a protest rally in the Banglabazar area in the afternoon and called for halting the loading and unloading of goods from lighter ships.
Secretary of Chittagong Port Authority Md Omar Faruk said that Charpara wharf has been leased so that the workers can board the boats safely through the wharf and taking excess passengers on boats can be prevented.
Besides, workers and passengers were passing through the Chinese wharf without the permission of the port which is illegal. So, the wharf has been vacated, he added.
About 1,600 lighterage ships transport more than 60 million tonnes of goods on different routes in the country every year. Due to the suspension of goods transportation by lighter ships, transportation of goods by river from Chattogram to the whole country has been stopped which is hampering businesses.