Rescue bid for BBIN MVA sans reluctant Bhutan

Dhaka,  Thu,  27 July 2017
Published : 16 May 2017, 00:14:10
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Rescue bid for BBIN MVA sans reluctant Bhutan

The country's lawmakers refuse to ratify the trans-border transport deal
Munima Sultana


A last-ditch bid is on to salvage the BBIN motor vehicle agreement (MVA) for cross-border movement of all modes transport across the four member-countries sans dissenting Bhutan.

The multimodal transport deal, signed by Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) in June 2015, has been stalled since Bhutan's upper house of parliament declined to endorse the agreement last December.

Sources said the lawmakers' rejection was prompted by apprehension that gaggles of vehicles would leave negative impacts on the tourist-haven Himalayan country's environment and road infrastructures.

They said as the three other parties to the treaty -- Bangladesh, India and Nepal -- had already ratified the MVA, they agreed to work on the MVA operation with the consent of Bhutan to go ahead without it.

The ministries of foreign affairs have already started correspondence to get Bhutan's consent to the alternative three-nation road-connectivity arrangement in South Asia, they added.

The MVA has an option which states member-countries can take any decision in agreement with all four members. Sources said due to having agreement among three countries, the MVA can be made effective by taking consent of the fourth that stays away.

"Diplomatic efforts have been taken to get Bhutan's nod to the launch of the MVA without it with the scope of its joining later whenever it feels fine," said one source.

The MVA was signed by the transport ministers of BBIN in Bhutan on June 15, 2015 allowing free movement of passenger and cargo vehicles, including private cars, across the four nations from January 1, 2016.

The BBIN MVA was supposed to be effective only when all the member-countries would ratify the agreement.

Since the signing of the deal, India and Bangladesh had ratified it while Nepal had taken time to ratify by its parliament due to transitional political unrest in the Himalayan country.

Though the Bhutanese opposition party in parliament had recommended the formation of a committee to review the necessity and impact of MVA in their Himalayan country, it left the issue to be settled in the upper house -- National Council.

Last December, the National Council said no to the MVA.

However, during one-and-a-half-year period, the four nations had worked on the protocol of the MVA and made a trial run of motor vehicles crossing over three of the countries. The protocol is to guide on different issues like routes, facilities, transit, security, and authority. Officials said as the three countries had made significant progress towards launching the MVA, the new effort got underway to make it useful for the region.

    smunima@yahoo.com
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