Customs asks BM Container for explanations


Warns of license termination

The deadly explosions and fires at BM Container Depot in Sitakunda, Chattogram on the night of June 4 killed at least 51 people and injured 250 others. Photo: Star/File


The deadly explosions and fires at BM Container Depot in Sitakunda, Chattogram on the night of June 4 killed at least 51 people and injured 250 others. Photo: Star/File

Custom House Chattogram has served a notice to BM Container Depot asking why its private bonded warehousing license should not be terminated following the recent deadly explosions and fires at it.

At least 51 people were killed and 250 others injured in the incident at the Inland Container Depot (ICD), a Dutch-Bangladeshi joint venture in Sitakunda, 20 miles north of the country’s main port of Chattogram, on the night of June 4.

The notice was delivered to the depot’s manager on September 15, after a Customs investigative committee issued a report citing six specific reasons for the deadly blasts.

The ICD has already partially started operations on August 29th.

After repeated objections from the ICD board, on Aug. 22, Custom House granted Chattogram approval for partially ongoing operations, subject to two conditions, sources said.

The notice required a written statement within 30 days of alleged breach of the rules of an off-dock installation and operations policy and a private ICD policy and negligence in the performance of duties.

The fact-finding report says no United Nations standard has been met for the storage of hydrogen peroxide-containing canisters from the export-oriented Al-Razi Chemical Complex at the ICD.

The ICD and the Al-Razi Chemical Complex belong to the same owners.

According to the report, the ICD authority did not inform customs about delays in the shipment of the huge quantities of chemicals after the assessment.

The ICD has not followed the rules of the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code when handling and storing goods such as hydrogen peroxide.

In addition, the ICD agency did not properly notify firefighters of the chemical fire.

Also, there was no fire hydrant system inside and the agency took no steps to secure firefighting tools, sources said.

The ICD agency also did not meet all the requirements of the Bangladesh Fire and Civil Protection Service regarding extinguishing fires.

The ICD agency has no facilities for primary medical care or an ambulance service and has not taken precautions under the International Ship and Port Facilities Code, the report added.

The notice also warned of penalties if no reply was received within the time limit set by the Customs Act.

Mohammad Faijur Rahman, Chattogram Customs Commissioner, signed the notice and forwarded copies to the Chairman of the National Board of Revenue, the Chairman of the Port Authority of Chattogram and the Custom House Chattogram Joint Commissioner of Customs (off Dock).

“We have received the copy and will submit our responses within the timeframe,” the depot’s director, Mujibur Rahman, told The Daily Star.

Earlier, the Cabinet Department issued letters to affected ministries and departments, urging them to take steps on the basis of 20 recommendations from a committee of inquiry formed on July 25 by the departmental commissioner’s office.

This committee submitted another report on July 6.

The report found gross negligence on the part of depositary owners, lax oversight and law enforcement by government agencies.


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