Transport Strike Leads to Delays at Chittagong Port
A 36-hour transport strike in Chittagong, Bangladesh led to serious delays at the port, with thousands of export and import containers affected.
According to Bangladeshi outlet Daily Star, about 4,200 TEU worth of container traffic was affected, leading to congestion at container terminals. Three bulk terminals also shut down for the duration of the strike.
The labor action at the port was part of a broader transport strike affecting trucking and passenger transportation, and was launched in reaction to student protests focused on safer roads. Students have been protesting in the streets of Dhaka since July 29 over dangerous driving and loosely-enforced traffic laws. Thousands die in road accidents in Bangladesh every year, and the student groups allege that the government has done too little to regulate the transport sector and have allowed dangerous commercial driving practices to continue unchecked. Last week, a private bus ran over a group of community college students in Dhaka, killing two and injuring 12. High school- and college-age students blockaded the streets in protest, shutting down traffic to check drivers' IDs and car registrations.
In response to the unrest, most private bus operators canceled services on routes within Dhaka and to and from the capital, alleging vandalism and safety risks. Jamdani Khandker, an official with the Road Transport Owners' Association, claimed that over 500 vehicles had been vandalized by students, though the number could not be verified.
At a press conference Sunday, the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry called on students to return to their studies and for transport companies to resume work. FBCCI president Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin also encouraged road transport companies not to employ unqualified or underage drivers, to avoid overloading buses and to maintain their vehicles in order to reduce the accident rate.