Benapole, March 2 (UNB): Around 5,000 trucks loaded with goods are waiting to cross into Bangladesh at India’s Petrapole land port, on the other side of the Benapole border. While they have been stranded, trade between the two countries has been greatly affected. It has already had a major impact on revenue collection (import duties).
These trade stoppages at Benapole-Petrapole are becoming increasingly frequent, caused by various complications that are being deliberately stoked ahead of elections in the Indian state of West Bengal, that borders Bangladesh. Millions are collected from the trucks every day throughout their ordeal.
Other traders, including importers and C&F agents, have reduced imports through Benapole port due to long delays in importing goods.
According to the Benapole port, trade with India is worth Tk 24,000 crore every year. Benapole Customs House directly and indirectly earns revenue of Tk 10,000 crore annually. Seven to eight hundred truckloads of goods are imported from India every day through Benapole port. At present the number is down to 300-400. On the other side, the mayor of Bangaon municipality Shankar Adya Daku created a privately owned park called Kalitala Parking and forces the trucks to enter it. Rs. 2,000 is being taken from each truck illegally.
Sources further said that at present it takes 15 to 20 days for a truck to be imported to Bangladesh. All the subscription money has to be paid to the Bangladeshi importers. For these huge additional costs many are turning away from Benapole port.
On Tuesday morning, Benapole Customs Commissioner Azizur Rahman held a meeting with Indian traders and customs to increase the number of imported trucks and increase revenue.
Sajedur Rahman, general secretary of the Benapole Customs C&F Agent Employees Association, said there is a terrible traffic jam on the other side of Benapole. About 5,000 trucks with imported goods are waiting on the other side of the port. It now takes about 15 days to enter Benapole port from Petrapole’s Kalitala parking lot. As a result, importers and C&F agents are suffering and import costs are rising.
Matiar Rahman, director of the India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce, said a strong syndicate has been formed at the Indian port of Petrapole on the other side of Benapole to import goods by land. His people, led by Bangaon Municipality Mayor Shankar Adhya Dakur, are collecting Rs. 2,000 per day from each truck. If a truck loaded with goods is stuck on the other side for 20 days, he has to pay Rs. 40,000. As a result, the importers are suffering huge financial losses.
Mofizur Rahman Sajan, president of the Benapole Custom Clearing and Forwarding Agents Association, said 75 per cent of the country’s industrial establishments carry raw materials as well as various food items through the port. Delays in importing goods are having an impact on many industries. Besides, it is also having an impact on revenue collection.
Benapole Customs Commissioner Azizur Rahman said, “We are holding regular meetings with Indian customs and traders to increase revenue and increase the number of trucks.”