- After the pandemic hit, export-import through the Benapole-Petrapole checkpoint decreased significantly
- Trucks carrying Bangladeshi export products into India came down to 50 per day
- Currently, around 350 trucks have been entering India from Bangladesh per day
- Around 10,000 trucks have been waiting on both sides of the border for the last couple of days due to the severe congestion
- Bangladeshi importers are suffering as Indian authority is charging a heavy toll on trucks waiting at Petrapole port
An increase in the number of goods-laden trucks passing through the Benapole-Petrapole border checkpoint between India and Bangladesh has resulted in severe traffic congestion at the Benapole land port.
Sources said around 10,000 trucks have been waiting on both sides of the border for the last couple of days due to the log jam.
According to the Benapole port sources, in FY21 the export of Bangladeshi products to India through Benapole land port decreased by about 42,000 tonnes. After the pandemic hit, the number of trucks carrying export products from Bangladesh came down to as low as 50 per day.
Benapole Customs Commissioner Mohammad Azizur Rahman said, "Export through Benapole decreased amid the Covid-19 pandemic, but it has increased over the last 15 days."
"Earlier, around 100 trucks with export products went through this port, but currently around 300-350 trucks are entering India every day. This has created traffic congestion at the port. If the port's capacity is increased, the import and export trade through this port will be more dynamic," he said.
Meanwhile, the rush of goods-laden trucks coming from India to Bangladesh has also increased.
Matiar Rahman, director of the Indo-Bangla Chamber of Commerce subcommittee, said, "The increase in the number of trucks carrying goods exported from India has caused severe congestion at the Benapole-Petrapole port. The government must take the matter seriously."
Mafizur Rahman Sajan, president of Benapole Clearing and Forwarding Agents Association, said, the Bongaon Municipality in 24 Pargana, West Bengal, which is one other side of the Benapole port, is collecting tolls from trucks waiting in the parking lot to enter Bangladesh. The municipality authorities charge small vehicles Tk50, six-wheelers Tk80, and 10-wheelers Tk120 per day. This is causing a financial loss for Bangladeshi traders.
Benapole Port Deputy Director Mamun Kabir said, "The increase in the number of trucks carrying export products is causing the congestion. We are working to increase the port's capacity."
There are 23 government-approved land ports in the country, among which 12 are operational. The Benapole port is one of the most important land ports, which is 84 km away from Kolkata.
The traders are very interested in using the port for export and import as a truck takes only three hours to reach Kolkata city from the port.
Sources said every year Bangladeshi products worth around Tk7,000 crore are exported through the Benapole port. In FY19, around 4 lakh tonnes, in FY20 around 3.38 lakh tonnes, and FY21 around 2.97 lakh tonnes of goods were exported through this port.
Every year around 80,000-tonne goods worth Tk53,000 crore are imported from India to Bangladesh through this port.
In total, goods worth Tk60,000 crore are imported and exported through this land port alone.
The government earns revenue of about Tk5,000 crore from import trade and about Tk8,000 crore from export trade done through the Benapole port. About 20,000 people directly and 50,000 people indirectly depend on this land port for livelihood.
Among the products imported from India, garment products, readymade garments, raw material for factories and pharmaceuticals, capital equipment for industries, chemicals, food products, rice, onion, cotton, chassis for truck and bus, motorcycle, vehicle parts, and tyres are most notable.
Jute and jute products, tissue, rice bran, fish, battery, ceramic tiles, soap, bone meal, knitted garments and fabric, are among the products exported from Bangladesh.