Chinese ship sailed off with Iranian bitumen labelled as UAE product
There is no bitumen company in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The Chinese ship Guangzhou Wan sailed off to Chattogram from Hamriyah port near Sharjah in UAE on May 9. The ship contained 11,220 tonnes of bitumen for two Bangladeshi companies. Some 6,773 tons are for the Bay Terminal and Distribution Company Limited, a sister concern of PHP Group. And the remaining bitumen was for MEB Group.
An investigation shows that the bitumen has come from Iran which is facing an international trade ban. The label was changed in UAE’s Sharjah Port. Then the bitumen was sent to Chattogram Port by another ship. However, a government circular strictly prohibits the release of any imported goods without following the standard procedures announced by the experts.
The bitumen laden ship was seeking ways for anchorage at the jetty of the Chattogram Port. The concerned authorities seized the ship following an order of the High Court. But both of the importer companies managed to take the seized ship under their possession. The concerned authorities were astonished by the incident.
However, Chittagong port officials confirmed to IANS on Wednesday evening, the Chinese ship was waiting at the outer anchorage on Sunday. However, it moved directly to the depot of the respective importer companies and the product was released.
Omar Faruk, secretary of Chattagram Port, told IANS: “We don’t know how the seized ship has gone to the depot of the importers. Rather, it is not our duty to follow, but only concerned Customs officers can explain this.” Later, replying to their role about any incident, he said, “Yes, if any incident is there, we have to care.”
Besides, the customs commissioner, assistant commissioners couldn’t provide information to IANS about the bitumen loaded ship.
The ship arrived at Chattogram port within 11 days on May 20.
In a recent circular, the government directed the customs authority of the country that any imported bitumen cannot be released without a quality test certificate from respective authorities. However, the two companies did not follow the directive, according to the investigation.
Meanwhile, the Mercantile Marine Department of Bangladesh government seized the ship following a direction of the High Court on June 9. The department’s principal officer captain Giasuddin Ahmed said the authorities seized the ship following the Court order.
Concerned officials said the importer companies tried to ignore the directives of the High Court by bypassing the standard procedures. However, the seized product reached the depot of importers finally, defying the government’s ban and the latest directives on bitumen import.