Transhipment through Ashuganj port
No heavy vehicles allowed unless road fitManjurul Ahsan
Bangladesh will not allow India to transport its goods using Ashuganj port unless the Ashuganj-Akhaura connecting road is made fit for plying heavy vehicles, shipping secretary Abdul Mannan Howlader said.
‘But we would consider emergency issues like over dimensional consignments or food supply to the flooded eastern states of India through Bangladesh. They will have to approach through the foreign ministry,’ he told New Age on Tuesday.
He said that the communication and railway ministries were yet to give him clearance whether the Ashuganj-Akhaura road and railway were ready to transport Indian goods on a regular basis.
Mannan on April 2 this year had said that regular transportation of Indian goods using Ashuganj port under the Bangladesh-India Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade, 1972 would begin after the ministries of communication and railway give clearance on the conditions of roads and the railway.
Shipping ministry officials, however, claimed that the country’s river route and inland ports were ready to allow Indian ships for transiting goods under the Bangladesh-India Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade, 1972.
When asked how India would transport its goods using Ashuganj-Akhaura route which was not ready to bear the load of heavy vehicles, Indian shipping secretary PK Sinha told New Age that ministry of roads transport and highways of India would look into the matter.
An Indian delegation led by PK Sinha at a meeting on Monday assured Bangladesh that India would consider the Bangladesh proposal to construct Ashuganj container terminal with an Indian grant of funds, said Mannan.
The Bangladesh shipping secretary said that construction of the terminal at Ashuganj port would cost $62 million.
But the issue would be settled after a feasibility study is completed in this regard, said the Indian shipping secretary.
Last year, under the PIWTT India used Bangladesh’s Ashuganj river port and Akhaura land port for the transhipment of its ODC between its two regions, West Bengal to Tripura in India’s northeast, through Bangladesh on a ‘trial basis.’
On October 19, Bangladesh government began to provide regular transit in a hurry and without any formal announcement even before the trial transit through Bangladesh’s Ashuganj river port and Akhaura land port to Agartala in the Indian province of Tripura could begin.
In the face of sharp criticism for allowing regular transit of Indian goods before the trial transit could be run, the government on October 26 decided not to allow India to avail ‘regular transit’ of its goods until the modalities were finalised following completion of the trial transit.
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