Chennai Port Trust (ChPT) employees have urged the management to withdraw rules that permit Container Freight Stations (CFS) to issue blank port entry passes to drivers and cleaners of container-laden lorries. They said the blank passes could be misused and will pose a security threat to sensitive installations.

Employees also criticised the Port management for proposing to outsource its section that issues passes, arguing that it posed a security threat.

The twin moves would also lead to revenue loss and render those working in the pass section surplus.

Currently, the pass section is manned by about 50 employees at three locations –opposite to Chennai Collectorate, ChPT zero gate and at CMDA Truck Terminal at Madhavaram. Passes are issued to about 1,400 vehicles and to 4,000 port users in other places every day.

While seeking the intervention of Prime Minister’s Office to urge the ChPT to withdraw the system of issuing blank passes, the representatives of Chennai Port & Dock Labour Liberation Front Trade Union cited an August 2009 incident that enabled a Chinese national to enter the port without the requisite clearances. Following objections from the Shipping Ministry, the issue of blank port entry passes was suspended. However, the practice resumed in October.

They also said there were no specific rules for issue of entry permits for laden containers at zero gate. Besides, no separate charges were levied for the container laden vehicles for overstaying.

“What is the need for outsourcing the pass section, when we are doing it efficiently? Right now the vital details in permit are entered manually, giving scope for manipulation. The passes are for periods ranging from one to seven days, whereas the entry fee is charged for a single day. Though stringent rules are laid for issue of daily pass, the bonafide details of driver/cleaner are not checked properly,” the employees charged.

However, a ChPT official said the proposed move was to make efficient utilisation of the pass section on round-the-clock basis on the lines of the Mormugao port. It would not render ChPT employees surplus, but they would be deployed in other departments.

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