A container ship – Rishad Rayan – carrying 16 tonnes of iron pipes from Kolkata will reach Mongla on 5 August to begin the second phase of the trial of India's transit facility using Chattogram and Mongla seaports in Bangladesh.
Then the cargoes will be transported by Bangladeshi trucks or trailers to Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya, a northeastern state of India, through the Tamabil-Dauki land port.
Another container ship will reach Kolkata port from Chattogram port carrying cargoes from northeastern India through the Dauki-Tamabil border.
Two of the proposed four trial runs will be completed as part of the full implementation of the four-year-old agreement to provide transit facilities to India using Bangladesh's two main seaports.
The remaining two trial runs will be container transportation from India via Sheola through Mongla port to Kolkata port and from India via Bibirbazar through Chattogram port to Kolkata port.
The Business Standard on Sunday tried to reach State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury over phone to talk about the arrival and transit trial run of the Indian container ship at Mongla port but his mobile phone was found switched off.
Shipping Secretary Md Mostafa Kamal did not pick up his phone when this correspondent called him several times over phone.
Md Sazedul Islam, additional secretary to the shipping ministry, told TBS that he did not know anything about it.
However, Mongla Port Director (Traffic) Md Mostafa Kamal said they have received instructions from the shipping ministry to take measures to release the containers on a priority basis.
The two countries signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in 2015 that allowed the movement of goods to and from India using Chattogram and Mongla ports.
A standard operating procedure (SOP) for this was signed in 2019 during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit to India. The following year, in the first trial run, India carried goods to Agartala by road from Chattogram port via Akhaura.
Earlier, Bangladesh temporarily fixed the escort fee from Chattogram port to Tripura at Tk50 per tonne of goods, the document processing fee at Tk30 per consignment, and the container scanning fee at Tk254 per container.
In the meeting of the Joint Working Group on Customs of the two countries held in March this year, India said it wants to start using the Chattogram and Mongla ports permanently as soon as possible, with the relevant fees, including escort charges, fixed for the trial run kept unchanged.
But, Bangladesh wanted to open the two ports for permanent use by India after conducting more trial runs and raising the escort charge on the basis of the experience of the trial runs.
Against this backdrop, the two countries have agreed to operate four trial runs by December this year.
In a note verbale, sent to the foreign ministry on 18 July, the Indian High Commission in Dhaka said the Indian transit container carrying ship Rishad Rayan would leave Kolkata port on 25 July to complete the trial run, which will reach Mongla port in the next 3-4 days.
All containers will be loaded from Kolkata with the final destination being in Agartala, Shillong, and Guwahati, the note verbale reads.