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Safe Port Issues in the Context of Chittagong Port Captain Mak Cilt

Safe Port Issues in the Context of Chittagong Port Captain Mak Cilt

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Published by: Mohiuddin Abdul Kadir-Razia Sultana on Jul 10, 2011
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11/10/2011

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SAFE PORT ISSUES IN THE CONTEXT OF CHITTAGONG PORT
Capt.Mohiuddin Abdul Kadir, MSc(Wales) LL.B FNI FCILT Master Mariner
1.0 Introduction
A seaport is a place that provides for the vessel transfer of cargo and passengers to andfrom waterways and shores. A port is a node in a transportation network-a spatial systemof nodes and links over which the movement of cargo and passenger occurs. A port isalso an economic unit that provides a (transfer) service as opposed to producing a physical product. The amount of the transfer service is referred to as the port’sthroughput. In a competitive environment, ports not only compete on the basis of location and operational efficiency, but also on the basis of the fact that they areembedded in the supply chains of shippers.The port of Chittagong is the principle port of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh. It issituated on the right bank of the river Karnafuli at a distance of 9 nautical miles from theshore line of the Bay of Bengal. River Karnafuli rising in the Lushai Hills and falls in theBay of Bengal after taking a winding course of about 120 nautical miles through thedistrict of Chittagong Hill Tracts and Chittagong.The importance of Chittagong Port in the development of the country and in achievingthe government’s goal to eliminate poverty cannot be over emphasized. It is importantthat the Port remains competitive to international shipping and the cost to users remainsreasonable. An unsafe port can result in difficulty in getting tonnage to service our tradeand in excessive freight being charged resulting in higher commodity prices to thedetriment of the entire nation. A number of arbitrations are pending in various jurisdiction on the question whether Chittagong is a
SAFE PORT
or not. The purpose of the paper is to identify the issues which are critical for maintaining Chittagong as a SafePort and to put forward recommendations to continually maintain Chittagong Port as asafer port to call.
 
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2.0 Historical Background
A brief historical background of the port is set out below
i
:
 
4th Century BC:Used to be called SHETGANG. Ships from Middle Eastand China used this Port.
 
9th century:Omani & Yemeni traders landed in this Port.Used to be called‘Samunda’
 
16th century:Used to be known as "PORTE GRANDE". Portuguese took great interest to use this port.
 
1887:Formal Port operation started from 25th April 1887.
 
1895-1910:Four Jetties were constructed to handle 0.5 million tons of cargo. Port used to be administered jointly by Port Commissioners and Assam-Bengal Railway.
 
1960:Chittagong Port Trust was formed.
 
1976:Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) was formed.
3.0 Hinterland of Chittagong Port
The term ‘Hinterland’ was borrowed from German, where it means literally
the land behind 
(a city , a port or similar). Specifically, by the
doctrine of the hinterland 
, theword is applied to the inland region lying behind a port, claimed by the state that ownsthe coast. The area from which products are delivered to a port for shipping elsewhere isthat port's hinterland. The demand of “port services” is a derived demand and it woulddepend on the growth of the ‘hinterland’ which would create demand for inflow andoutflow of products and raw materials to and from the hinterland. Apart fromBangladesh the seven land locked Indian states, Nepal, Bhutan and even China is thenatural hinterland of Chittagong Port and vice versa Chittagong is the natural port for our neighbours from these huge area. They should be allowed to use our port services tomove products at a much lesser cost rather than sending through land/ air route. Apartfrom making a good neighbourly gesture for improving relations with our neighbours byallowing use of our ports we could also earn significant revenue in the process.
 
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4.0 Strategic Importance of Bangladeshi Ports
In a globalised world with modern IT services information regarding product price isfreely available. The challenge is to arrange the logistics to deliver the product in themost efficient and cost effective manner. The geography of the Indian Subcontinentmakes Bangladesh and its ports the logistical corridor of a vast hinterland. Effective useof the Ports of Bangladesh can bring welfare to a large population my making suppliesavailable at a cheaper price.
5.0 Charterers ‘SAFE PORT’ Obligation
Traditionally it has been the duty of the charterer of a vessel to ensure that the port hesends the vessel to is safe for the vessel to berth and discharge and receive cargo.A shipowner is obliged to proceed the vessel to port nominated by the charterer under charterparty, but various clauses are inserted in the charterparty with the intention of rendering the shipowner immune from the vagaries of an unsafe port.There is no doubt that the safe port obligation is critical for the shipowner, as he is notobliged to load if it can be shown that the charterer has failed to nominate a safe port. If a port nominated becomes unsafe, the shipowner notifies the charterer to nominate analternative port, and if the charterer fails to do so the shipowner may deliver the cargo atthe nearest safe port in accordance with the terms of the charterparty.The obligation imposed on the charterer is not an absolute one in the sense that he isusually absolved from abnormal occurrences, but the duty of the charterer to ensure thatthe port nominated is safe for all intents and purposes is quite an onerous one.
6.0 Definition of Safe Port
The classic definition of the safe port warranty may be found in the Judgment by SellersL.J. of the UK Court of Appeal in the case of the Eastern City:
“If it were said that a port will not be safe unless, in the relevant period of time, the particular ship can reach it, use it and return from it without, in the absence of someabnormal occurrence, being exposed to danger which cannot be avoided by good navigation and seamanship, it would probably meet all circumstances as a broad  statement of the law. Most, if not all, navigable rivers, channels, ports, harbours and berths have some dangers from tides, currents, swells, banks, bars or revetments. Suchdangers are frequently minimized by lights, buoys, signals, warnings and other aids to

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