Lighter vessel workers resumed the unloading of cargo from mother vessels at the Chattogram outer anchorage after five consecutive days, as the Met Office lowered danger signal number 3 on Saturday.
The unloading of goods was suspended due to a workers' strike that began on 19 October and continued for three days, and then remained halted for two more days because of inclement weather.
Confirming the matter while speaking to The Business Standard, Bangladesh Water Transport Cell's (WTC) Joint Secretary, Ataul Kabir, said, "The lighter ships have begun to venture into the port's outer anchorage after the Met Office lowered the danger signal on Saturday noon."
Large ships cannot dock at the Chattogram port due to low draft, so these ships use lighter vessels to unload their cargo – including food items, cement clinkers, stones and scrap. Then the lighter vessels transport those goods to different docks at the Chattogram port and through other waterways.
Nearly 50 such mother vessels were unable to unload their goods at the Chattogram outer anchorage in the past five days.
Responding to a query, the Bangladesh Lighterage Workers Union's President, Mohammad Isa Mia, said, "The lighter vessels – previously stranded in different areas – have now begun to dock in the Chattogram port. Unloading of goods is now going on in full swing at the docks.
"Lighter vessels from the River Karnaphuli have already started their journey towards the outer anchorage on schedule."
During a spot visit, The Business Standard saw that workers are unloading goods such as scrap, pulse, wheat, maize and stones at the Banglabazar, Anu Majhir and Jute Rally ghats of the River Karnaphuli. The docks are now buzzing with activity.
All types of cargo vessels across the country had shut their operations on 19 October at midnight in response to a strike sponsored by the Shipping Workers Federation and the Lighterage Workers Union pressing an 11-point list of demands.
The strike was withdrawn on Thursday evening, but lighter vessel workers could not resume unloading goods due to the inclement weather.
The WTC's Executive Director, Mahbub Rashid Khan, said, "We authorised 28 lighter vessels to unload goods on Saturday. With this, more than 50 lighter ships are now engaged in the unloading of goods."
Patenga Met Office Assistant Meteorologist, Meghnad Tanchangya, said the Chattogram port was asked to lower danger signal number 3 on Saturday noon.