It can be noted that 20 privately owned depots manage the cargo containers exported through Chattogram port. The depots need to take necessary safety measures based on the risk factor. Depots that store explosive goods need to take stricter safety measures. Although late, it is appreciable that other depots have started to install fire hydrants. We hope it would not be a stopgap solution.

The container depots get licenses following compliance with two regulations of the National Board of Revenue (NBR) and the shipping ministry. According to the BPC, the BM Container Depot authorities never made an application to set up a diesel pump inside. They installed the pump upon getting clearance from the explosives department. The BPC on 22 June last year sent a letter to the explosives department requesting them not to issue any license to set up pumps without their approval. Here the explosives department clearly flouted the request. A lack of coordination among the government authorities is clear here.

It is obvious that the handling of hazardous goods in our country is in a sorry state. More dangerous accidents can take place if we don’t act right now. According to Export Promotion Bureau and NBR, the 20 container depots of Chattogram handled goods worth USD 31.5 billion out of USD 38 billion exported in the last fiscal. So, it is exigent to improve the mechanism of handling hazardous goods alongside strengthening the overall safety system. Local laws and international guidelines must be followed in the storage and supply of hazardous substances. Legal constraints, if there are any, should be rectified. There are separate regulations of port authorities, customs department and environment department regarding the explosive substances. There must be a coordinated regulation. A strict monitoring measure has to be taken to ensure that no one can flout that regulation. We do not want any more loss of lives.

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