After a long wait, trade through the Birol Land Port in Dinajpur is going to begin this year, said officials at Birol Land Port Limited – the port's operating company.
Export and import activities via the land port will begin once about 150 yards of connecting road inside India is completed, they added.
Seventeen kilometres of the road is in Bangladesh while only about 150 yards of it falls in India.
Additionally, the construction of an immigration and customs station, and check post of Border Guard Bangladesh, is ongoing in full swing.
Export and import activities may not only commence by road but also by rail – this year.
Once trade starts at this land port, it will be the only land port of Bangladesh through which products can be traded to-and-from India, Bhutan and Nepal by both road and rail.
For this, a development project proposal to install another rail track has been submitted to the ministry concerned, said officials of Birol Land Port Limited.
The construction of Birol Land Port began in 2005 for the huge trade potential of Bangladesh with India, Nepal and Bhutan by railway and road.
However, the activities of the land port halted the following year as Bangladesh did not have broad gauge rail track from the port to Parbatipur in its part, though India had the facility.
The Indian government changed metre-gauge rail track to broad-gauge in Radhikapur in 2006.
The broad-gauge rail track from the port to Parbatipur was installed in 2011 and trade via the rail route – Birol Railway Station in Dinajpur and Radhikapur Railway Station in India – started in 2017. At present, oil tankers come to Bangladesh from India by rail.
The Bangladesh portion of the port falls under Dinajpur's Birol upazila and the Indian portion under North Dinajpur's Radhikapur.
For vehicle movement at the port, the construction of a three-kilometre link road from the land port to the main road of Birol upazila – and the expansion of the previous narrow road – have been finished.
The roads, at a cost of Tk71.14 crore, have been built to facilitate transporting products – which are to be imported from India, Nepal and Bhutan – across the country.
Nurul Amin, an importer and the proprietor of SS Enterprise, said, "Businesspersons from Dinajpur, Rangpur and Panchagarh will benefit from the port."
He urged the government to make the port functional soon.
Mokarram Hussain Liton, the proprietor of Shantona Ma Traders, said, "Once the facility is built, the users of this port can enjoy the benefits of easier and cheaper transportation of goods."
As the business area of Dinajpur is near the land port, many businessmen of small enterprises will be able to import products.
Another businessman, Makhlesur Rahman, echoed this.
Birol Upazila Nirbahi Officer Jeenat Rahman said, "As India has yet to start constructing the road inside its territory we could not work on the port in full swing."
However, at the border haat conference between high officials of the two countries in 2019, Indian officials agreed about the construction of the connecting road, said officials.
Birol Customs Officer Abdur Razzaque said they received a letter from the National Board of Revenue, around seven months ago, seeking an update about the progress of the infrastructure development inside India – and they replied to the letter citing the present state of the work.
Birol Land Port Limited Managing Director Shahidul Patwary said immigration has already started through the port at a temporary office. Once another track, that will connect the existing rail track near the land port, is built, the port will begin operating this year.
"Once either the construction of about 150 yards of road inside India or the installation of another rail track is completed, the port will start functioning. The work on at least one will be completed by this year," he added.