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Banglabandha land port facing setback- Non-cooperation from Indian side

Tuesday June 15 2004 02:21:37 AM BDT

Asif Showkat

From the very beginning of its launching, the Banglabandha land port is facing a serious setback in its full-swing functioning owing to the non-cooperation by the Indian side.

The Bangladesh government has already set up an immigration office in Banglabandha but counterpart India is yet to do the same at Fullbari despite repeated request made by Nepal. As a result, the process of exporting and importing goods are being hampered, according to shipping ministry sources.

Banglabandha land port was inaugurated on May 29.

Despite the repeated demand made by the government of Nepal to extend the transit time at the 52-Kilometere corridor in between the land port and Nepalese border, India is yet to pay any heed to Kathmandu’s request.

The shipping ministry in charge of the land ports now fear that it would not be able to reap maximum benefit out of the operation of Banglabandha land port until and unless the transit time is extended.

According to the shipping ministry sources, at present the Indian government allows only two-hour transit time for movement of trucks through the Indian transit point from Banglabandha land port to the Nepalese border. The government of Nepal made several requests to India for extension of the transit time up to four hours from the existing limit of two hours to transact business and trade between Bangladesh and Nepal through the new land port.

“ It was expected, after the resumption of Banglabandha land port, Bangladesh’s exports to Nepal, Bhutan and northeastern Indian region will increase”, said high officials of the commerce ministry. But only 15 trucks with commodities touched the land port last month, they further added .

At present, 16 immigration officials, six customs officials, eight land port officials, two quarantine officials and 12 security guards and police officials are now discharging their duties on shift basis in Banglabandha land port.

The ministry of shipping feared that without Indian cooperation, Banglabandha land port would not be able go for full-swing operation and as a result, trade with Nepal and Bhutan would not be increased up to the expected level.

However, the Indian authority has not yet developed two-kilometer road between Nepal and Indian border. In the rainy season, it is difficult to run the loaded vehicles on the two-kilometer mud road.

The Bangladesh Commerce Ministry will try to invite Indian, Nepalese and Bhutanese commerce ministers to attend the main inaugural ceremony. But the concerned commerce ministers of respective countries are yet to agree to accept the invitation.

Chairman of Bangladesh Land Port Authority (BLPA) AKM Shamsuddin told the News Today that the whole idea of developing Banglabandh land port was initiated by the commerce ministry, but without any political consensus among the four countries, the operation of this land port won’t bring any positive result.

Currently, Bangladesh is exporting fabric, paper items, tooth-brush, shirt and jute and jute goods to Nepal through Banglabandha land port.

Mentionably here, the World Bank’s (WB) asked the government to develop the country’s two land ports at Teknaf and Banglabandha under Development Service Agreement (DSA).
The two land ports are being developed on a Build-Operate-and-Transfer (BOT) basis.
The inland port at Teknaf would facilitate the flow of goods between Bangladesh and Myanmar.
The government has allocated 50 million US dollars for the development works. The works would be completed by next month. But Sonamasjid land port would not be developed as the finance ministry has not yet provided funds for acquiring land for that land port.
And other development work of the land ports at Bibibazar and Biral is yet to start due to lack of funds and that is why, the ministry of shipping thinks that the two land ports would not be commercials viable for the country.


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