Climate change hits Bangladesh's sea ports

Climate change hits Bangladesh’s sea ports

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By Syful IslamImpacts of climate change are frequently disrupting operations in the country’s two seaports causing huge financial losses, port officials have said.Bangladesh is among the countries vulnerable to the impacts of climate change where storms, cyclones, flash floods, poor rainfall, droughts, and river bank erosion have become increasingly visible nowadays.
Officials of the Chittagong port, in a recent report said that being located at the coast of the Bay of Bengal the port is exposed to cyclones and storm surges and highly vulnerable to tidal surges.
“Most of the disastrous events the port experienced are related to climate change and there has been phenomenal increase in their frequency, severity and unpredictability in the recent times.
“The most severe impacts have been visualised in terms of sea level rise leading to submergence of port areas,” Syed Farhad Uddin Ahmed, secretary of the Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) wrote to the Shipping Ministry recently.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in a report in 2007 said a one-metre rise in sea levels may swamp 17 per cent of Bangladesh’s low-lying areas and displace 20 million people by 2050. The IPCC in its Fifth Assessment Report, released on September 27, projected that by 2100 the sea-level might rise by 28-98 centimetres.
The World Bank Group in June this year said among the South Asian nations Bangladesh will be most affected by an expected 2° Celsius temperature rise in the next decades.
It said if temperature is up by 2.5 ° Celsius, the flood areas in Bangladesh could increase by as much as 29 per cent.
Mr Ahmed said occasionally the port operational works suffer badly and sustains damages and losses.
He told the FE that the canals and low-lying areas of the port area are being submerged even in high tide disrupting activities.
Citing some examples Mr Ahmed said during the cyclone Mahasen, the activities in Chittagong port were halted for 9 hours. The port operations remained suspended for over three days during the cyclone of 1991.
Port operations were also disrupted during major cyclones like Sidr and Aila which stuck Bangladesh’s coasts in 2007 and 2009.
Director of Mongla Port Authority Hawlader Zakir Hossain told the FE the port’s advantage is that it is located some 130 kilometres from the seashore.
“But natural disaster often disrupts activities of the port in one way or another. The cyclones Sidr and Aila had halted the port operations as those hit the nearest area with fierce velocity,” he said.
Sources said the CPA in 1992 had formulated cyclone guidelines to help contain the effects of such disasters and keep the port operational immediately after any major cyclone strikes. The cyclone disaster preparedness and post cyclone rehabilitation plan, initiated by the port is a useful tool for disaster management.
The SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) Secretariat is preparing a plan of action for disaster management which the CPA thinks will help establish a regional disaster management system to reduce risks.
Most of Bangladesh’s export-import activities take place through the country’s two seaports.

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