Bangladeshi traders are counting daily losses of Tk10 lakh as they await entry into Bangladesh at Petrapole Land Port in India, on the other side of Benapole Land Port, for a long time.
Benapole C&F businessman Sultan Mahmood Bipul said Mayor of Bangaon Municipality Shankar Adya Daku, in West Bengal, India, constructed Kalitala Parking and forced the trucks coming from different states to enter Bangladesh to park there for 15-20 days.
More than 5,000 trucks with imported goods are parked waiting to enter Bangladesh at Petrapole Land Port in India, the other side of Benapole Land Port, greatly affecting trade between the two countries.
Due to being stuck in the parking lot, Bangladeshi traders have to pay a fine per truck of Tk2,000 per day. As such, Bongaon Municipality is realising a fine of Tk10 lakh per day from them.
For these huge extra costs, many are turning away from Benapole Land Port. Trade between the two countries has been severely affected and there has been a major impact on revenue collection.
Despite traders' protests and discussions at the government level in the two countries, there has been no positive outcome.
According to sources at Benapole Land Port, trade with India through this port is worth Tk24,000 crore annually. Benapole Customs House earns Tk10,000 crore revenue directly and indirectly annually. Usually, 700 to 800 truck goods enter Bangladesh from India through Benapole Land Port every day, which has now reduced to 300-400 trucks.
Jashore District Motorparts Traders' Association president Shahinur Hossain Thandu said syndicates at the Bangaon and Petrapole ports have become a new concern for Bangladeshi importers. In the name of serials, the syndicate is keeping Benapole-bound trucks waiting at Kalitala Parking for 20 days.
Due to the long delays in importing goods, traders have reduced their imports through Benapole Land Port. As a result, both import-export volume and revenue have decreased.
Matiar Rahman, director of the Indo-Bangla Chamber of Commerce Sub-Committee, said an influential syndicate was established at Petrapole Land Port in India. A truck loaded with goods has to pay Rs40,000 to syndicate if it gets stuck there for 20 days.
Jamal Hossain, joint secretary of the Benapole Customs Clearing and Forbidding Agents Association, said 75% of the country's industrial units bring raw materials as well as various food items through the port. Due to the prolonged import of goods, many industries have been affected badly.
Benapole C&F Agent Staff Employees Association general secretary Sajedur Rahman said nagging congestion has been created on the other side of Benapole where nearly 5,000 trucks have been stranded.
Mofizur Rahman Sajan, president of the Benapole Customs Clearing and Forwarding Agents' Association, said perishable goods are being damaged, affecting many industries due to delay in imports.
Benapole Customs Commissioner Azizur Rahman held a meeting with Indian businessmen and customs officials on 2 March to increase the number of imported trucks and increase revenue.
When asked, Md Azizur Rahman said they held meetings with Indian customs and traders in phases to increase revenue and numbers of trucks with imported goods.
"It is sad to have a truck stuck like this. Bangladeshi traders are suffering financial losses due to this," he said.