Labour unrest is feared at Chittagong Port, as a section of workers is preparing to wage a movement against Saif Powertec Ltd on allegations of taking the port hostage by capturing major share of cargo handling activities.
The worker leaders demanded the firm should be blacklisted on charges of irregularities and corruption.
Anxiety grips the users of the country's premier sea port which experienced no instability since 2010.
Workers under the banner of Chattagram Bandar Raksha Parishad started a campaign on Wednesday to press home their six-point demand, including cancellation of contracts of operating different terminals of the port between Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) and Saif Powertec.
ABM Mohiuddin Chowhdhury, Chittagong unit president of Awami League, is leading the platform.
The leaders urged the CPA to take steps against the firm, as it breached a contract by not starting handling cargoes in Kamalapur Inland Container Depot (ICD) in Dhaka even after 18 months of its signing.
They also urged the authority to take action against violation of the public procurement rules and run the New Mooring Container Terminal (NCT) under the port's management and with equipment purchased with own fund.
They also called for forming a panel to investigate the corruption made by Saif Powertec and implementing the deal signed between the CPA and Dock Bandar Sramik Karmachari Federation.
A workers' rally would be held at the port's main gate on August 27.
Twelve operators of the port's general cargo berth are supporting Chowdhury and the Parishad as they think that Saif Powertec has been appointed as an operator of two jetties of NCT in 2007 without any competition.
During the regime of a caretaker government, Saif Powertec got the job of an operator without any tender, Chowdhury said in his letters sent to different ministries demanding quick action against the firm.
“Later the CPA appointed the firm through direct procurement method without allowing any other firm to take part in the process.”
Ahad Chowdhury, a member of the Parishad and joint convener of Dock Bandar Sramik Karmachari Federation, said they will soon start movement to oust the firm from all activities of the port as it dominates around 60 percent of the cargo handling activities.
Tarafder Ruhul Amin, managing director of Saif powertec, denied the allegations, saying that no rule was violated during the appointment of the firm by the CPA.
“We have been handling cargoes at the cheapest rate and with highest efficiency in the port,” Amin said.
An unscrupulous group with vested business interest made the allegations, he said.
Since the appointment of the firm, the CPA only extended its contracts later, as no permanent operator could not be appointed, said Rear Admiral Nizamuddin Ahmed, chairman of the CPA.
Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Mahbubul Alam said the port activities should be kept smooth for the sake of the economy.
He also urged the government to resist any unrest at the port.