Phulbari hinders export trade between Nepal, Bangladesh

Govinda Chettri

Jhapa, May 28:

Though Bangladesh has constructed adequate infrastructures for a landport at Banglabandh, lack of proper management in Phulbari, India is hindering the growth in export-import trade between Nepal and Bangladesh. Yadav Raj Shiwakoti, chief of Nepal Transportation and Godown Management Company Ltd at Kaankadbhitta, said that the transportation agreement between Nepal and India is a major hindrance. Products being exported to Bangladesh from Nepal have to be unloaded at Zero Point on the Bangladesh-India border, as trucks cannot be taken to the godown in Bangladesh directly. This has presented a huge problem, said the Nepali businessmen.

Shiwakoti added that the agreement must be amended and that export materials should be taken to Bangladesh godown directly, otherwise export to Bangladesh can never grow.

The Bangladesh Port Authority has constructed a godown of 1,000 metric tonne capacity, customs office building, a branch office of Sonali Bank of Bangladesh and immigration office at the dry port. The godown, bank and immigration office have started operating while work on the customs office is being done from Panchamgarh Customs Office, situated 50-km from Banglabandh.

Govinda Kumar Dutta, inspector at the Panchamgarh Customs Office, said that the export and import rate between the countries is very low and workload is also very less. "The materials are unloaded at Zero Point and there is no immigration office on the Indian territory. We just have to stand while the materials are unloaded at the Zero Point. So there is no point in running the customs office at Banglabandh."

It takes around four to five hours to unload goods at Banglabandh, which is 52-km from Kaankadbhitta. If everything goes as planned, businessmen have to ask Indian border guards to open the gates. The Banglabandh area bordering India and Bangladesh is separated by a wire fence and the iron gate remains closed and keys to the gate remains with border guards. The Kaankadbhitta Customs Office informed that after the construction of dry port at Banglabandh, business between the two countries have been going on for five days a week since May 24.