Agartala, Nov 4 : The first cargo vehicle from West Bengal to Tripura via Bangladesh reached here yesterday.
The trial run was launched on November 1 at Kolkata as part of the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) sub-regional initiative for uninterrupted cargo movement.
A mini-truck carrying goods and a car, which were flagged-off from Kolkata two days back, reached Agartala on Tuesday via Dhaka.
Abhijit Gayen, the driver of the mini-cargo truck, said that the new route had reduced the distance travelled by more than 1000 kms.
“I am coming from Kolkata and we left on 1st November after our Transport Secretary Alapan Banerjee had flagged off the vehicles. We reached Banapol in the Bangladesh border on 1st and today we reached here at Agartala through the Jamuna bridge and Akhaura. This is happening for the first time between Bangladesh and India and under the agreement of BBIN which means Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal. There is an agreement between the four governments and this is the trial run,” he said.
He added the roads are in good condition except a small patch of 20 km in Brahmanbari while approaching the Tripura border.
The BBIN Motor Vehicles Agreement aims to ensure that goods laden vehicles of each country ply uninterrupted through designated corridors.
The cargo transportation initiative would reduce the distance between Kolkata and Agartala by nearly two thirds – from 1,550 kms to 640 km.
M R Pyne, a Customs Superintendent from Kolkata who accompanied the vehicles, said that the new route would help the trade flourish in the region.
“I travelled with the vehicle to checkout certain modalities and as per instruction from my board. The journey was super fine and there was no problem only at certain parts of Bangladesh the road was little bumpy and bad. It was superbly coordinated with security. I think it will be flourishing trade because in one step we have reduced the distance by 1000 km so naturally it will be very beneficial,” he said.
“Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal have signed the agreement. It is like first the passenger vehicles, then the cargo and also the personal vehicles will be allowed. This is a motor vehicle agreement among these four countries where all the motor vehicle movement will be free,” he added.
Monish Biswas, general secretary of Agartala Exporters-Importers Association, said that Bangladesh and North-east would get maximum benefits out of this initiative.
“Bangladesh will be benefited because the corridor or Nepal-Bhutan through India’s Siliguri, they will get access through that and hence get the opportunity to do business with those two nations. So the obstruction in that region will be overcome and hence Bangladesh will be benefited,” he said.
The BBIN motor vehicles agreement was signed on June 15 in Bhutan’s capital Thimphu. The draft protocol, finalised on September 8-9, 2015, at Dhaka, is expected to be signed by officials of the four countries at a conference to be held shortly in West Bengal’s Siliguri town.
The BBIN agreements besides financial benefits of the alternative route and reduction in transport expenditure will also increase connectivity within the eastern neighbours as well as the Association of South East Asian Nations.
India has been insisting on using Bangladeshi rail and road networks, waterways and ports, especially for easy transport of Indian goods from Kolkata and other major cities to northeastern states.
Earlier in 2012, Bangladesh had allowed state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation to ferry heavy machinery, turbines and over-dimensional cargoes through Ashuganj port for the 726-MW Palatana mega power project in southern Tripura beside food grains.
The Indian government had spent several millions of rupees to develop the Ashuganj port and related infrastructure. (ANI)
Tripura, Cargo, Truck, Kolkata