Undue delay because of mismanagement and irregularities by a syndicate at Petrapole land port has become a fresh worry for the Bangladeshi importers.
In the name of serial, Benapole-bound goods carrying trucks are made to wait for more than 20 days by the truck parking syndicate in the Indian part of the port under Bangaon.
Trucks carrying imported goods from different states of India are being forcibly held in queues for 20 to 25 days prior to entering Petrapole, causing the importers losses.
The traders pay around 2,000 rupees a day, and the imported goods get damaged during the lengthy waiting hours.
Moreover, industrial activities are hampered as the raw materials cannot reach the factories in time. Truck drivers are also incurring losses in the process.
According to the traders, despite several attempts, they have not been able to get rid of the syndicate.
However, the port authorities say they are trying to resolve the issue.
The commercial journey of Petrapole land port began with the Benapole port in 1972. Kolkata, the chief commercial city of India is only 84 kilometers away from the port.
Due to the smooth commute, traders of both countries prefer the route for export and import activities. Most of the imported items are industrial raw materials.
According to the traders, a truck departing from Kolkata can reach Benapole port in only five hours, after completing all the necessary formalities.
But, the trucks are held up in queues in Kalitala parking under Bongaon municipality for 20-25 days, allegedly for extortion.
Because of this hassle, some businessmen have abandoned their export-import activities through the port, which also has resulted in a loss of revenue for the government.
Haripada Das, an Indian truck driver, said they cannot reach Benapole port in time as they are held up in the Bangaon Kalitala parking lot against their will.
Sajedur Rahman, general secretary of the Benapole C&F Staff Association, said this extortion in the Bangaon parking lot has led many traders to stop their import activities altogether.
"Despite complaining about the matter several times, the importers are yet to get any relief," he said.
Azim Uddin Gazi, general secretary of Benapole Port Truck Transport Union, said, "There was no truck parking or extortion racket in the Benapole port area for export from Bangladesh. But this parking lot in Bangaon has created a culture of extortion when we import from India."
Aminul Haque, vice-president of the Benapole Import-Export Association, said that the quality of the products deteriorates, and production in factories is hampered as trucks are stuck up in the parking lot.
"Assuming there are no obstacles, the cargo trucks can reach Benapole port from Kolkata in a day. This problem cannot possibly be solved without high-level discussions," he said.
Benapole C&F Association President Mofizur Rahman Sajan said Bangladeshi traders have been held hostage by the Indian Truck Parking Syndicate for almost two decades.
"We are not getting any solutions even after applying to various departments, including the Indian High Commissioner," he added.
Acknowledging the matter, Kartik Chakraborty, general secretary of the Petrapole C&F Association, said, "We have reported the issue to the concerned authorities."
Abdul Jalil, acting director of Benapole Land Port, said, "We have spoken to the Indian authorities many times about the irregularities in the Bangaon parking lot after receiving complaints from traders. I hope there will be a solution very soon."