All three incidents of piracy in Chattogram port were recorded under category-4, which means the pirates were unarmed and no one was harmed
People concerned said the reputation of Chattogram port as piracy-free is fading due to these incidents
A Chattogram port official said reports of piracy were false, and they will protest it
After remaining piracy-free for a couple of years, Chattogram port has witnessed three incidents of pirate attacks so far this year, according to the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP).
According to the ReCAAP report, pirates attacked the oil and chemical tanker Wawasan Topaz on 15 March, the LNG tanker BLPG Sophia on 18 April, and the STI Magister on 26 April this year.
People concerned said the reputation of Chattogram port as piracy-free is under threat due to these recent reports of piracy. In order to maintain its reputation, the Chattogram Port Authority (CPA) needs to be more proactive about the safety of ships.
The ReCAAP records incidents of piracy under four categories.
All three incidents of piracy in Chattogram port were recorded under category-4, which is defined as: "The perpetrators were not armed and the crew not harmed. More than half of CAT 4 incidents involved 1-3 men who escaped empty-handed upon being sighted by the crew."
Regarding the pirate attack on 26 April, Bangladesh Coast Guard (East Zone) Commander M Ashfaq bin Idris told TBS that a number of miscreants stole some goods from a foreign ship at the port, but they recovered it within six to seven hours and returned it to the ship authority.
However, Capt Md Faridul Alam, deputy conservator of Chattogram port, told The Business Standard there has been no piracy at the port this year.
"We disagree with the ReCAAP report. We will send a letter to the ReCAAP authorities soon protesting the report," he said.
As of 28 May this year, 39 piracies across the world have been recorded in the ReCAAP report. Of these, three were reported in Bangladesh, three in India, three in the Philippines, 25 in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore, and five in Indonesia.
Chattogram port image under threat
Chattogram port plans to launch Patenga Container Terminal next July this year. Moreover, direct shipping routes between Bangladesh and Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom have already been established, and a few such routes will open soon.
In such a situation, new incidents of piracy will have a negative impact on the image of the port, according to stakeholders.
"In previous years, the port was freed of piracy, which had a positive impact on the international maritime sector. However, three incidents of mischief this year will definitely harm this achievement," said Shahed Sarwar, a director at Bangladesh Shipping Agents' Association.
"Surely there was a lack of security. Security at the port needs to be further strengthened to maintain the continuity of the port's previous achievements," he added.
In 2006, a report of the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) declared Chattogram port as the world's most dangerous port with regard to pirate attacks. There were 47 incidents of piracy in the port that year.
In January 2012, for the first time in 20 years, the IMB removed Bangladesh from its list of high-risk pirate-prone countries.
According to ReCAAP, Chattogram port was first 100% free from piracy in 2019. Then in 2020 there was only one robbery. In 2021, it again earned the reputation of being a piracy-free port.