How the Ctg port was cleared of hackers
On December 12, 2020, a group of 10 armed men boarded the Bridgewater 80, a Singapore-flagged supply vessel, in the western part of Kutubdia, and stole two drums of hydraulic oil and hoses from it.
Although the incident occurred outside Chattogram Port limits, the goods were recovered with the assistance of the Coast Guard using the port’s Vessel Traffic Management System (VTMS) and the thieves was handed over to the police.
According to the report of the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP), this was the last theft in the port of Chattogram.
Then a new era began for the Port, ending previous years of fear, thanks in large part to better coordination. But a lot of work has been done to reach this particular milestone.
In 2000, pirates killed five fishermen after looting their boat.
In the same year, an Indonesian officer was shot dead on a Shell Oil Company ship. He spurred the formation of a 10-member task force comprising officials from various government agencies and shipping representatives to review security arrangements.
In 2006, a report by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) declared the port of Chattogram as the most dangerous port in the world for pirate attacks. There were 47 robberies in the port that year.
The frequent flights have had a negative impact on the image of Chattogram Port as many foreign ships have refused to arrive there for security reasons.
Vessels that agreed to come, however, agreed only on the condition that they charge more than the fixed rate taking into account the risk. As a result, the cost of imports and exports has increased.
However, the authorities managed to eradicate these thefts near the port.
The Chattogram Port Authority (CPA) has taken some steps including increasing Coast Guard patrols, introducing a Vessel Traffic Management System (VTMS), monitoring unauthorized vessels entering the outer anchorage, sending guards to ships and installing 1,250 CCTV cameras in the harbor yard.
They have also extended their patrols from seven nautical miles to 65.
In January 2012, for the first time in 20 years, the IMB removed Bangladesh from its list of high-risk countries prone to hacking.
The Port Authority’s timely measures have brightened the country’s image as Chattogram Port is now 100% flight-free. Vessel fares and insurance premiums have also fallen due to security measures.
According to ReCAAP, in 2015 there were 10 incidents of theft at Chattogram Port. In 2016, the number of burglaries fell to one. However, in 2017 and 2018, the number was 11 and 9 respectively. From 2019 to present, only one hacking incident occurred in 2020.
The ReCAAP said that in 2021, incidents of 77 thefts and five attempted thefts occurred worldwide. Of these, four occurred in neighboring India, four in Malaysia and 50 in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore.
As of January 2022, seven robbery incidents have already taken place, including five in the Singapore Strait and two in India.
In 2000, the Port of Chattogram coast guard received two patrol boats to prevent thefts. The Coast Guard has reinforced surveillance in the harbor channel with these patrol boats. In 2013, authorities purchased VTMS from Sweden for Tk 46 crore, which placed an area 10 nautical miles from the port under video surveillance.
For this, 46 high power infrared video cameras have been installed at various locations including Patenga, Bandar Bhaban, Sadarghat, Ruby Gate, Anwara and around the entire channel of Chattogram Harbor and its environs.
The authorities have also taken the initiative to install 100 additional infrared cameras in Kutubdia, Matarbari and Sitakunda regions at a cost of Tk 50 crore. The project will start in the next six months.
In addition, the CPA installed 1,250 CCTV cameras to secure the port, including the pier, the port yard and the handover yard.
Rear Admiral M Shahjahan, Chairman of the CPA, told The Business Standard: “VTMS was introduced in 2013. The Navy and Coast Guard are working hard to prevent piracy. As a result, Chattogram Port’s image has improved around the world. We will take all necessary measures to keep the port 100% free of piracy.
Zulfiqar Aziz, who was Chairman of Chattogram Port Authority in 2018 and 2019, said, “I coordinated with all parties involved during my tenure to make the port 100% piracy free. In 2019, for the first time, the port was 100% hack-free. I am happy that it has been maintained so far.
Syed Mohammad Arif, President of Bangladesh Shipping Agents Association, said: “At one time, shipping agents faced embarrassing situations due to various thefts especially on foreign vessels at Chattogram Port. . This created a negative image of Bangladesh in the maritime world.
“However, the situation has now changed thanks to the efforts of the CPA. In recent times, the number of theft incidents has decreased to zero. The authorities must do more to sustain this achievement,” he added.
Port authorities have faced problems operating the VTMS due to a lack of technical knowledge. Later, experts from the Netherlands, France and Hong Kong were brought in to train the port’s naval officers. At present, 50 qualified agents are in charge of the management of the VTMS.
According to sources, the port authorities send six lookouts when a ship reaches the outer anchorage.
However, many shipping agents refuse to take on guards citing high costs. Although port authorities mandated the employment of guards, officers refused to take them on for various reasons.
Shahed Sarwar, director of the Bangladesh Shipping Agents Association, said: “Six guards have to be paid Tk 3,600 per day. A bulk carrier often stays 10 days in port to unload goods. In this case, a ship must pay 36,000 Tk to keep guards. In addition, agents must provide them with food and accommodation costs. That’s why the shipping agents refuse to take the guards.
According to port officials, the Bangladesh Coast Guard monitors the area up to 12 nautical miles from the coast. The rest of the country’s maritime border is guarded by the Bangladesh Navy.
Mr. Ashfaq Bin Idris, Commander of Bangladesh Coast Guard (East Zone), said, “We are continuously conducting patrol activities in Chattogram port area with three vessels. No flights have taken place here since 2021.”
Source: The Trading Standard