Thousands of Indian trucks currently wait at Petrapole port for several days before they can unload at Benapole port, adding to costs for importers and affecting the government’s revenue earnings
Trucks carrying goods from India are being held up in traffic congestions due to an acute storage crisis which is severely affecting trade through Benapole land port in Jessore, a major gate on the Bangladesh-India border.
It currently takes 8-10 days for imported goods from Petrapole port to arrive at Benapole port, whereas earlier it used to take just a day or two.
Due to a lack of storage facilities, traffic congestion at Benapole land port has reached alarming proportions. Currently, a truck cannot enter the port before the last truck finishes unloading.
Port officials say about 150,000 tons of goods were imported in July alone as the port was closed for months because of the coronavirus pandemic. Around 55,000 tons of goods have been imported in the past 12 days, which is why there is currently a storage crisis.
Goods worth around Tk30,000 crore are imported and exported through this major land port between India and Bangladesh every year.
According to Benapole port sources, 1,288,938 tons of goods were imported through the port in FY2015-16; subsequently 1,393,319 tons in FY2016-17, 1,988,357 tons in FY2017-18, 2,181,123 in FY2018-19, and finally 1,977,074 tons in FY2019-20.
Despite making significant contributions to the country's economy, the port lacks infrastructural development.
At present, the port has 32 sheds and 10 yards, which house over 100,000 tons of goods against its capacity of 51,000 tons. As a result, the poor storage facility is causing goods to be damaged or stolen.
Thousands of Indian trucks currently wait at Petrapole port for several days before they can unload at Benapole port, adding to costs for importers and affecting the government’s revenue earnings.
Matiar Rahman, director of the Indo-Bangla Chamber of Commerce subcommittee, said the space crisis at Benapole port has been a long-standing issue. “We have repeatedly demanded that the port authority increase storage space but to no avail. Thousands of trucks are parked at Petrapole. Now is the time to build private warehouses around the port.”
Mizanur Rahman Khan, former president of Jessore Chamber of Commerce, said: “Bangladeshi importers have to pay extra Tk3,000 per day for trucks parked at Petrapole border. Businesses are losing money because of extra cost and delayed delivery.
Mofizur Rahman Sajan, president of the Benapole C&F Association, said: “The storage capacity of Benapole land port needs to be increased and necessary infrastructure has to be built to make it suitable for trade activities. If the government does not take immediate action in this regard, the port will soon become unusable.”
Benapole Land Port Authority Deputy Director (Traffic) Mamun Kabir Tarafdar said: “Traders have informed us about the port's space crisis and shortage of equipment. We have informed the authorities concerned to take necessary steps to resolve these issues.
“Meanwhile, we have already built two large yards on 25 acres of land and there is a proposal to acquire another 16 and a half acres for increasing the storage capacity. Besides, construction works for a cargo vehicle terminal costing Tk289 crore will soon begin and the port area will be brought under CCTV surveillance which will cost another Tk45 crore. If these projects are implemented, there will be no more problems at the port.”