Container and goods delivery from Chattogram port has remained halted since Tuesday morning due to a strike by goods transport owners and workers protesting against increased advance income tax.
The 72-hour strike has been called by Bangladesh Covered-Van Truck Prime Mover Goods Transport Owners Association and Bangladesh Truck Drivers, Workers Federation to press their 15-point demand.
Md Mainuddin, president of Chattogram Prime Mover Workers' Union, said, "We have long been pressing our demands including withdrawal of the decision to hike advance income tax on the vehicle owners and issuance of licences for heavy vehicles directly."
Trucks, covered vans, prime movers stopped entering the port to deliver goods from 6 am Tuesday and export containers also stopped coming from 19 private off-docks.
Officials concerned expressed fear that if the strike continues for three days, it will create a container log-jam of at least 12,000 containers and traders will face financial losses.
Mahbubul Alam, president of Chattogram Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the three-day strike will cause severe damage to the country's economy.
"If the transportation of goods in the port is stopped, the image of the country in the international arena will also be damaged," he added.
These demands need to be resolved through negotiations and not by halting the transportation of goods, he added.
Nurul Kaiyum Khan, president of Private Inland Container Depots (ICD) Owners' Association (BICDA), said such strikes by taking the country's economy hostage is undesirable.
"If the containers of exported goods do not reach the port on time, ships' schedules will also be disrupted," he added.
Kazi Mahmud Imam Bilu, first joint general secretary, Chattogram C&F Agents Association, said, if the goods are not delivered from the port, the importers will have to pay a fine for daily storage rent.
"Who is going to take responsibility for that?" he asked.
However, Md Omar Faruk, secretary, Chattogram Port Authority, said even though container transportation is currently closed at the port, everything else is functioning as usual.