Goods are being imported and exported through the Benapole land port without being scanned as the sole scanning machine at the port has been out of use for the last one year for lack of an agreement with the contractor.
In the absence of a scanner, there is a high risk of smuggling through the port, stakeholders fear.
The machine is lying idle as Benapole Custom House has not signed any agreement with the contractor, which had operated it for the first six months after the arrival of the machine.
Three years ago, the Chinese government donated four scanning machines to Bangladesh to strengthen trade relations with the country.
In 2018, one of the machines was installed at the point through which Indian goods-laden trucks enter Benapole land port. The machine is capable of detecting chemicals, drugs and weapons in cargo trucks.
The first six months, the machine was operated free of cost by the contractor Fiber Associate, which is operating the three other scanning machines at Mongla port, Chattogram port and Dhaka Inland Container Depot.
Later, the operation of the machine stopped as the port authorities did not come to an agreement with the contractor through tenders.
It needs seven skilled engineers to operate a scanning machine.
Traders using the port demand immediate resumption of the scanning activities to keep import-export safe as they mention that around three tonnes of Viagra tablets and Phensidyl had been seized at the port in the last two years.
Azim Uddin Ghazi, secretary of the Benapole Transport Owners Association, said, "We feel safe if the scanning machine is operated. There will be no risk of transporting illegal goods by trucks from the port if it starts again."
Aminul Haque, vice president of Benapole Import Export Association, said the scanning machine at Benapole port had been closed for one year but the authorities concerned were not paying any heed to it.
"We think that it is very important to resume the operation of the scanning machine for the sake of security," said Aminul.
Shopu Barua, engineer of the Fiber Associates, said, "The scanning has been suspended at the behest of senior officials of the company as customs authorities have not come to an agreement with us. We will start working again if the agreement is made."
Neamul Islam, additional commissioner at Benapole Custom House, said, "The government is yet to make any allocation for operating the scanner is yet to be received. Initiatives have been taken from the National Board of Revenue (NBR) in this regard. There will be an agreement with the contractor. After scrutinising, tenders have been sent to the NBR for its approval. Scanning machines play an important role in keeping the trades transparent."
Mofizur Rahman Sajan, president of Benapole C&F Agents Association, said, "It is very important to keep the scanning machine running for safe trade. I hope the customs authorities will take action soon."
Abdul Jalil, deputy director (administration) of Benapole port, hoped that the authorities concerned would resume the operation of the scanner soon.
Goods worth around Tk48,000 crore are imported and exported through Benapole land port annually. The revenues from it stand at around Tk5,000 crore.