Ex-Ctg mayor against foreign NCT operator16 July 2014 bdnews24.com
Former Chittagong mayor ABM Mohiuddin Chowdhury has written to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina against what he says is a 'conspiracy' to recruit foreign operators for the New Mooring Container Terminal (NCT).
President of Awami League's Chittagong unit, Mohiuddin sent a fax to the prime minister's office on Monday, his personal secretary Muhammad Osman Gani has said.
Mohiuddin has urged the prime minister to intervene in the matter, said Gani. The ministers of finance and shipping were also informed.
The senior leader was Chittagong's mayor for three consecutive terms until he lost in 2010.
"The project to construct the NCT at a cost of Tk 7.37 billion with Chittagong port funds was approved by ECNEC (Executive Committee of National Economic Council) during Awami League's tenure in 1999," Mohiuddin said in the fax.
"The decision to undo the earlier approval and recruit a foreign operator was taken during the past coalition government (BNP-Jamaat).
Several forums opposed the idea and the decision was shelved in 2006, he said.
"The process to float tender and recruit a foreign operator was, however, resumed under the government that came after 1/11. Reviews of that tender document unearthed several scandals which were reported by newspapers."
These matters came to the attention of the current Prime Minister (Sheikh Hasina) who scrapped the process to recruit a foreign firm, said the Awami League leader.
"At the same time, direction was given to abide by ECNEC's decision to finance and direct NCT with port funds and procure machinery for it. Port authorities were informed by the Shipping Ministry at March 6, 2013."
Port authorities were making technical preparations when the parliamentary standing committee on Shipping Ministry in a meeting on Jun 2 gave its opinion in favour of hiring foreigners, which goes against the prime minister's decision, he said.
Mohiuddin claimed local operators are 'very much capable' of handling NCT berths just like the port's other berths.
"Foreign operators, once recruited, will handle NCT for 25-30 years or more. The port's authority over NCT will be reduced."
It will put the government 'in trouble' and compromise national security and interest, said the former mayor. "A kind of dual authority will be formed."
Mohiuddin believes foreign presence in NCT will lead to 'uneven competition' with Chittagong Container Terminal (CCC) and General Container Berth.
"The country's people, port users and workers will all suffer because of this."
Bangladesh Navy's main fortifications are on the shallow end of NCT and CCT lies on the higher part, he said. Both institutions will suffer lethally if a foreign operator is recruited for NCT, he said.
"The plot to recruit foreigners is being instigated by a certain group of people," he said while urging Sheikh Hasina to intervene.