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Bangladesh Court Rules Against Terminal

May 19, 2003

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) _ Bangladesh’s Supreme Court on Monday upheld a lower court verdict declaring illegal a government deal with a United States-based company to build a private container terminal in a southeastern port city, a court official said.

In November last year, the Bangladesh High Court had declared illegal a private terminal project that was to be built in Chittagong by the Stevedoring Services of America, Bangladesh _ an affiliate of Seattle-based Stevedoring Services of America.

The High Court ruled that the government had approved the project without properly study. The government and the private company appealed the High Court ruling to the Supreme Court.

But on Monday, a seven-member Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice Mainur Reza Chowdhury, rejected their appeal, Mohammad Ali, a government lawyer, said.

The government of former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina approved the $438 million project in 1998. The container terminal was to be constructed near the state-owned Chittagong Port. Chittagong is 135 miles southeast of Dhaka, the national capital.

But construction was stalled as the project came under criticism from experts and Chittagong Port officials, who feared the terminal would obstruct shipping channels. Many port workers and local residents also objected, fearing loss of business and jobs.

Hasina’s government had approved the private container terminal amid growing concerns over inefficient services, corruption and frequent labor unrest at the state-run Chittagong Port.

After coming to power in October 2001, Prime Minister Khaleda Zia’s administration formed a committee to review the project.

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