The main revenue-building of Benapole land port is posing a threat to the lives of employees, officials, and traders working there due to its dilapidated condition.
Instead of declaring the structure abandoned or renovating, the land port authorities have been trying to protect it from collapsing with bamboo and wooden logs as well as iron angles for the last five years.
Users of the country's largest land port are working there while risking their lives, despite a large crack being seen on the first floor of the three-storey building.
Mofizur Rahman Sajan, president of the Benapole C&F Association, said the building houses offices of the land port, customs, and the security agency. More than 300 people always stay inside the building during office hours for their business-related tasks.
Unfortunately, such an accident-prone building continues to be used for business purposes despite the lurking danger. An accident or collapse of the building can claim the lives of many people, he added.
Port sources said as the first floor of the building has been in a dilapidated state for a long time, the port authorities have shifted a portion of its office to the international passenger terminal check post. However, the second and third class employees are still working inside the building, putting their lives at risk.
Another unit that is being used is also in a dilapidated condition. The plaster ceiling keeps falling from the roof all the time. The rickety building should be renovated as soon as possible. Otherwise, fatal accidents may occur at any time.
Mahasin Milon, joint secretary of the Benapole Land Port Import and Export Association, said the port earns Tk6,000 crore revenue annually, But it is unfortunate that its main commercial building is in such a dilapidated condition for a long time.
"We have to enter the building amid fear. The Bangladesh Land Ports Authority will hopefully give due importance to renovate it to avert possible future tragedy," he said.
Matiar Rahman, chairman of the India-Bangladesh Land port Import-Export Committee, said traders have been angry over the poor infrastructure of the port building since its inception. If the land ports are not taken under the Ministry of Finance from the Ministry of Shipping, the desired infrastructure will never be achieved.
Mamun Kabir Tarafdar, deputy director (Traffic) at Benapole Land Port, said, "The risky portion of the first floor of the building is locked so that none can enter. We have already reported to the higher authorities about the current dilapidated state of the building."