The Chattogram port has not yet completely implemented the security measures specified by the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code and the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) code.
According to ISPS and IMDG codes, delivery of goods has to be conducted at a separate place other than the main port area, container scanners have to be installed at all the gates of the port, and dangerous products should be kept in separate containers with a label of product details.
The Chattogram port is still conducting container delivery service from the main port. Besides, scanners have only been installed at six out of its 12 gates.
Earlier on Tuesday, a two-member delegation of the United States Coast Guard (USCG) visited the Chattogram Port to scrutinise the compliance of the ISPS Code.
They inspected the overall activities of the port including the yard, jetty, CFS (container freight station), port entrances, and CCTV camera at the port.
About 7,000 vehicles enter the port every day for taking delivery of goods. Representatives of various agencies engaged in the unloading process, including the drivers and helpers, have to enter the port, which according to The US Coast Guard is a risk to port security.
Another delegation of the USCG visited the port in 2017. At that time, the delegation put forward 16 recommendations for enhancing the port's security.
The port authorities have only been able to meet some conditions in the last five years.
The issue of implementation of codes of IMDG and ISPS has come up for discussion after the tragic explosions and fire at the BM Container Depot in Sitakunda on 4 June.
The Chittagong Port Authority said the USCG inspection was not related to the BM container depot incident but was part of a regular inspection.
According to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the ISPS code is a comprehensive set of measures to enhance the security of ships and port facilities, developed in response to the perceived threats to ships and port facilities in the wake of the 9/11 attacks in the United States.
Since 2004, the IMO has made it mandatory to implement the ISPS code for security in ports around the world including the Chattogram Port.
The DG (Director General) of the Ministry of Shipping is the head of the designated authority (DA) for the implementation of the ISPS Code.
The authority also includes representatives from the National Board of Revenue and the port. This authority monitors whether the terms of the ISPS code are being implemented at the port.
Captain AKM Shafiqullah, former director-general of the Department of Shipping, told TBS, "Bangladesh is a country implementing the IMDG Code. So far no authority has been formed in Bangladesh to see if this code is being implemented or not."
Besides, Bangladesh is also a signatory to the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) code. It is not clear which agency will implement the code.
Rear Admiral M Shahjahan, chairman of the Chittagong Port Authority, told TBS, "The US Coast Guard delegation that visited the port recently will provide their recommendations later. Moreover, the purchase of scanners for export products is under process. The LCL cargo delivery has been moved from the side of the jetty."