- 8,000 freight trucks stuck in Petrapole
- Cargo trucks stuck in Petrapole being fined Tk50 – Tk160 every day
- 300 – 350 export trucks leaving for India from Benapole every day
- 300 trucks carrying imported goods arriving in Benapole every day
- Without the congestion, trade would have increased further
Trade traffic at the Benapole Land Port in Jashore has increased impressively since the lockdown ended.
Every day around 300 – 350 trucks cross the port to India with export items. During the lockdown, there were only about 100 trucks. About the same number of trucks, 300 or so, come in from India with imports, which used to be around 150 trucks during the lockdown.
However, the increase in traffic has led to a congestion of cargo trucks, both at the Indian port of Petrapole and in Benapole. There have also been a few complications in Petrapole causing freight trucks carrying imports to get stuck on their way to Bangladesh.
The Benapole port authorities say that without these complications, more cargo trucks could have arrived at the port, increasing trade volume.
Cargo clutter in Petrapole
Mofizur Rahman Sajan, president, Benapole C&F Agents Association, said, at least 8,000 cargo trucks carrying imports are stuck in Bangaon municipality of India on their way to Bangladesh.
"The trucks waiting in Bangaon to enter Bangladesh are being fined every day for parking. Depending on the size of the vehicle, the fine is anywhere from Tk50 – Tk160 a day, a cost and harmful burden for Bangladeshi traders," Sajan added.
Matiar Rahman, director, sub-committee, Indo-Bangla Chamber of Commerce, said the fines are most unusual.
"The Bangladeshi importers are being forced to pay fines to the Bangaon municipal authority and the importers are being harmed in the process," he said.
Neither Indian nor Bangladeshi traders have to pay such fines on the Bangladesh side at Benapole port, Matiar added.
Azizur Rahman, Benapole customs commissioner, said, even though the Indian High Commission has been contacted regarding congestion on the Petrapole end, there has not been any improvement or resolution of the issue.
Kartik Chakraborty, general secretary, Petrapole C&F Agents' Staff Welfare Association, said cargo trucks are being taken to parking in Kalitala supposedly to maintain 'serial' or their place in line so to speak, under the command of the Bangaon municipal authority.
"If this matter can be resolved, trucks can enter Bangladesh faster," he added.
Benapole at a glance
Benapole Land Port is one of 23 land ports in the country. The port is some 84 kilometres away from India and a freight truck can reach Kolkata within just three hours from the port and it takes around the same time for a cargo truck from Kolkata to reach Benapole port.
Due to the transportation system being convenient, traders prefer this route for trading purposes.
According to Benapole port sources, from FY2014 – 15 to FY2018 – 19, more than 18 lakh tons of goods were exported through the port.
In FY2018 – 19, some four lakh tons of goods were exported, while in FY2019 – 20, more than three lakh tons of goods were exported. In FY2020 – 21, nearly three lakh tons of goods were exported.
At this port, the government every year earns about Tk2,000 – 2,500 crores from the export tariff, and around Tk8,000 crore from import tariff.
About 50,000 people are directly and indirectly dependent on the port for their livelihood.
The land port imports garments, industrial and pharmaceutical raw materials, capital equipment for industrial establishments, chemicals, and food grains, among other goods. The port exports jute and jute products, rice husks, fish, garments products, soap, and ceramic goods, among others.