Importers face a lot of difficulties in unloading their goods in the absence of required infrastructure at Jashore Rail Station, with the authorities allegedly doing little to address the issue although the station makes crores of take in profits from imports.
The construction work of the loading-unloading platform of Jashore station is yet to be completed, forcing traders to unload goods at Nawapara and Singia stations. Unloading goods at these stations is also troublesome for lack of electricity, which makes it difficult to work after dusk.
Meanwhile, the station has informed that 20 (10 wagons) containers have to be emptied every day, failing which importers will have to pay an additional charge of Tk90 per container. However, due to inadequate facilities, it is not possible to unload more than 10 containers per day. On top of it, there are no resting sheds for workers.
Many multinational companies are showing interest in importing goods by rail because of delays in the unloading process through Benapole port due to congestion of goods.
Another perk of bringing goods through the railways is that importers can avoid huge charges for stuck cargo vehicles. Usually, the goods-laden cargos do not remain stuck when transported through the railways, which allows imported goods to enter the country in less time. However, there is still the problem of cargo shipment clearance.
Traders engaged in import and export said that most of the freight rail cargo arrives in Bangladesh in the evening. As a result, releasing of goods only begins the next morning, which forces the importers to pay extra charges after 12 hours. Traders demanded that this period be extended to 24 hours.
Traders also demanded a speedy start of the second line in Benapole, which will allow entry of more freight trains from India.
Matiar Rahman, director of Indo-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that the time limit for unloading goods should be extended to five days from three. He also called for reduced detention charges and speedy construction of the loading-unloading platform in Jashore.
In the first four months (July-October) of the current 2021-22 fiscal year, a total of 1,20,000 tonnes of various goods were imported by train from India and the railways earned around Tk8.26 crore.
However, the government did not take any step to increase facilities for the unloading of imported goods.
Saidur Rahman, manager at Benapole Station, said, "We are hoping that the second line will be launched next month."
He also said that they are working to alleviate miseries of traders.
Mizanur Rahman Khan, former president of Jashore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that the importers have increased the import of goods by rail due to various reasons. However, no facilities have improved at the rail stations.
"If the infrastructure of the railway is developed, the import will increase further and the traders will also benefit," he said.
Md Azizur Rahman, a commissioner of Benapole Customs, said that the importers are importing by rail to avoid long queues of cargos at Petrapole.
"It's good for everyone concerned. The railway will benefit from this," he said.