Robbery, hijacking rampant on Dhaka-Ctg HighwayMuktadir Rashid . Dhaka and Anwar Hussain . Chittagong
Robbery and hijacking have become rampant on highways, especially on the Dhaka–Chittagong Highway, causing worries to businessmen.
Businessmen, transport owners and workers said that miscreants regularly hijacked trucks and covered vans that were carrying valuables, especially ready-made garments, cement, raw materials of exportable goods, imported fabrics and thick iron rod.
They identified some vulnerable points on the Dhaka–Chittagong and the Dhaka–Gazipur Highway and in other places and asked the law enforcers to take measures. But crimes continued even after the law enforcement agencies had been informed, businessmen alleged.
Murshed Murad Ibrahim, president of the Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry, on July 5 sent a letter to the home ministry seeking an immediate intervention in stopping such incidents on highways.
The Chittagong Inter-District Transport Association and the Truck and Covered Van Owners’ Association decided not to carry MS rod and cement for an indefinite period from tomorrow in protest at the robbery and hijack on highways.
‘No vehicles will leave Chittagong for any other places carrying MS rod and cement as such vehicles get hijacked,’ Abu Muzzaffar, secretary general of the Truck and Covered Van Owners’ Association, told New Age on Friday.
Ibrahim told New Age that at least 45 incidents of robbery and hijacking were reported in the past three months.
Muzaffar said that according to records available with the Inter-District Transport Association and the Truck and Covered Van Owners’ Association, about 50 robberies had taken place in April. Besides, seven to eight drivers and their assistants were also killed by the robbers in the period.
According to data compiled by the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and
Exporters’ Association, 29 incidents of robberies and mugging were reported on routes between the Chittagong port and factories in Dhaka and neighbouring areas time between January 2011 and June 21, 2012.
People involved in the sector, however, said that many such incidents were not reported.
The second BGMEA vice-president, Md Siddiqur Rahman, said that a number of incidents had taken place but the goods could be recovered later.
Ibrahim said that transport owners incurred losses because of such incidents on highways and they also needed to pay the price of the goods to the owners.
The entrepreneurs concerned fall in trouble after they lose raw materials for the production of exportable goods, he added.
‘We are incurring losses because of such crimes,’ said Shovon Islam, managing director of Sparrow Apparels Limited. His imported fabrics were looted at Sitakunda in Chittagong on May 20.
On that night, another group looted a covered van carrying a huge amount of fabrics in Chagalnaiya in Feni after the goods had been loaded at Chittagong port.
Shovon told New Age that he was forced to import fabrics again.
The Chagalnaiya police officer-in-charge, Aminul Islam, said that they had arrested seven people, including the van driver Kaybar Aziz Sheikh and some merchants, in this connection and recovered 20,000 yards of the looted fabrics based on their statements.
Detectives told New Age that some powerful, organised groups were involved in looting imported apparel items on some specific locations on highways such as Sitakunda in Chittagong, Chagalnaiya in Feni and Chauddagram and Chandina in Comilla.
The investigators said that the drivers in many cases helped such organised crime gangs.
Cloth merchants at Keraniganj, Nawabganj and Islampur in Dhaka allegedly hire such organised criminals to loot trucks and covered vans on highways, the Detective Branch’s additional deputy commissioner (west), Mashiur Rahman, who led several drives to recover looted goods, said.
Bangladesh Auto Re-Rolling and Steel Mills Association leaders also expressed concern about the growing incidents of truck hijacking, with at least 22 such incidents being reported in the past seven months.
Merchants of Chittagong are also worried about growing incidents of such crimes on highways.
‘We are facing serious trouble in the absence of security on highways as vehicles laden with valuable often get hijacked,’ the Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry president, Morshed Murad Ibrahim, told New Age on June 23.
The Highway Police superintendent (east), Md Rezaul Karim, who looks after the Dhaka–Chittagong Highway, told New Age that the situation had improved after they had intensified vigilance.
Global positioning system should be installed in all vehicles to avert such incidents, Rezaul said.
Police headquarters officials said that a number of outposts would be built under its Fifty Highway Police Outpost project on strategic locations in the next financial year.
Besides continued patrolling, closed-circuit television cameras should be installed at vulnerable points on the Dhaka–Chittagong Highway, said Md Abdul Hamid Sharif, president of the Bangladesh Reconditioned Vehicle Importers and Dealers’ Association.
comments powered by Disqus