Dhaka to push Delhi for dedicated frontier ports

Dhaka,  Sun,  24 September 2017
Published : 15 May 2017, 21:55:10
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Dhaka to push Delhi for dedicated frontier ports

IBCCI demands turning Benapole 24x7 facility
FE Report


Bangladesh will pursue India for the establishment of dedicated ports on both sides of the frontier for facilitating imports of commercial vehicles from its next-door neighbour.

Shipping minister Shajahan Khan will discuss the issue with Indian officials when he visits India shortly.   

"We will discuss with the Indian authority for building dedicated ports only for importing cars from India," he said.

His announcement came when a delegation of India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IBCCI) called on him at his secretariat office on Monday.

Almost 90 per cent of commercial vehicles in Bangladesh are imported from India mainly through Petrapole-Benapole ports, said importers.  

Such a port can be dedicated for importing vehicles, they suggested.

The shipping minister will hold a meeting with Indian high-ups during his upcoming visit to Kolkata for resolving the problems related to the land ports.   

Taskeen Ahmed, president of the IBCCI, said the volume of exports and imports through Petrapole-Benapole land customs stations had increased significantly over the past few years.

He said that India is already ready to run its ports for 24 hours a day.

Bangladesh can also take the initiative to keep its ports operational from 6 AM to 10 PM and also to keep them open on Saturdays.

Due to the lack of infrastructure facilities at Benapole port, exports and imports activities are being hampered, he said.

The IBCCI informed the minister about the problems the businesses have been facing while conducing exports and imports activities through Petrapole-Benapole land custom stations (LCSs).

The chamber said currently, there was a queue of more than 4,500 goods-laden trucks at Petrapole LCSs and trucks were taking 15-17 days to cross over to Bangladesh after the trucks reports at Bongaon municipal parking at Kalitalla.

 The warehouses at Benapole are chocked full and most of the time does not have space to unload import cargo.

It also said that the congestion at the border is leading to the shortage of trucks and the truck rental has reached Rs 30,000 for a 10 kilometre-long distance.

Truck detention of Rs 1,500 a day is also a considerable burden on the exporters. Until today, exporters have absorbed the cost, but they cannot sustain it for a long, according to the chamber.  

The IBCCI suggested the government increase the rate of warehousing at Benapole, which should be at least 50 per cent higher than those of Jessore Bongaon warhouses.

It also suggested allowing at least 500 trucks a day to cross over to Bangladesh by the port authority until the congestion on the Indian side is not cleared, while requesting to Indian Central Board of Exercise and Customs by the National Board of Revenue (NBR) to give priority movement to all fabric exports on par with perishable items and self-driven automobiles and build a three-kilometre road from new ICP gate to Benapole on an urgent basis.

The IBCCI also recommended the government for building a world class infrastructure at Benapole, large warehouses with multi-loading and unloading docking points while developing proper roads from integrated check post (ICP) of Petrapole to Benapole.

Allowing private warehouses to operate and announcing Benapole as a round-the-clock working port by the NBR are other recommendations of the chamber.

The annual turnover of trade between Bangladesh and India through Benapole has significantly increased to Tk 220 billion from Tk 100 billion a few years back.       

The shipping minister will visit Benapole on June 02 and will hold a meeting with relevant parties.

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