Trapped in Container
Pot smoking was a factor
The two Bangladeshis, who were discovered in a cargo container shipped from Chittagong to Singapore, had smoked marijuana in the container before being locked in.
“For some time, we forgot that we were in a container,” said port worker Din Islam, who was lucky to survive after being trapped in the container for nine days without food or water, but his colleague Alamgir died after seven days.
The container was on board a ship, Hansa Caledo, which left Chittagong Port on April 2.
After five days of journey the ship reached Singapore, and the container was left for another four days in Pasir Panjong Container Terminal, with Din Islam and the decomposing body of Alamgir inside.
Workers in that terminal discovered Din Islam and Alamgir’s body on April 10, responding to Din’s banging on the container wall when it was being reloaded onto a trailer for shipment to another Vietnam-bound ship.
Alamgir’s body is now in Singapore General Hospital, while Din Islam, after treatment from Alexandra Hospital, is now under the care of Transient Workers Count Too, a charity for migrants in Singapore.
Din talked to The Daily Star over the phone with the help of local Bangladeshi journalist AKM Mohsin. Din hails from Biswa Colony of Kancha Bazar in Pahartali of Chittagong.
He and his friend Alamgir entered the container around 11:00pm with a pack of marijuana worth Tk 20 on April 1.
“We were smoking ganja, and could not remember where we were, but after sometime realised that the container we entered was locked,” Din said.
None heard them when they shouted and hit the wall of the container with a small piece of rod after a few hours. They realised that they were on the ship, but could not understand that it was already sailing.
“When we realised that the ship was moving, we just prayed to Allah. We were yelling, but got tired,” Din said, adding that they were able to breathe because some air was coming in through the cracks of the container’s screw holes, but the air inside was dank and stale, and it was dark.
He said days of starvation emaciated them, and his friend breathed his last saying, “I’m gone,” only two days before they were discovered by the terminal workers in Singapore.
“From then on, my suffering was acute. It was like fire inside the container. My breath was almost at the last,” Din said adding, when he was in the Singapore port, he could hear people walking around. He banged on the container wall, but in vain.
“I was asking myself why Allah does not take me like my friend,” he said.
Now he finds himself in a strange world, and he simply wants to return home, said AKM Mohsin.
The Singapore authorities, who were initially looking into possible charge of illegal entry, have not charged Din yet.
Din said he is now alright, but is worrying about his family. His wife Beauty left him and took their 18-month-old son with her to her parent’s house at Mohammadpur in Laksam.
Some nights Din would not return home out of frustration, he said adding that he occasionally smokes marijuana but his friend Alamgir was a habitual smoker.
Din is illiterate and could not provide any mobile phone number of his relatives.
“I want to return home and meet my family,” he pleaded.
Mohsin said Din has to go through some legal process in Singapore. First the authorities in Bangladesh have to identify his home address, then the Bangladesh high commission in Singapore has to issue a temporary passport for him. He will also need money for an air ticket. “It hasn’t been decided yet who will manage the money,” Mohsin said.
Courtesy of The Daily Star