The three planned land ports under the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal initiative will, if implemented properly, revitalise trade relations in the region and open up new vistas for Bangladesh.
The proposed land ports in Sylhet, Rangamati, and Satkhira are strategically placed for the greatest trade benefits. The Bhomra port in Satkhira, for example, is close enough to Kolkata to drastically reduce import-exports costs between India and Bangladesh.
Safe, economically efficient, and environmentally sound road transportation policies would go a long way towards cutting out unnecessary hindrances to trade in the region that the business community often faces.
With lower transportation costs, improved facilities, and increased trading capacity, everybody wins.
Greater regional cooperation between these four countries is imperative if the region is to prosper, and BBIN may have a chance to succeed in areas where SAARC has failed.
BBIN’s initiatives don’t end with land ports. Bus and cargo services in the sub-region would have a considerable positive impact by making it easier to travel, increasing people-to-people contact and cross-border activities.
The BBIN roads deal would create opportunities by enabling the seamless movement of passengers and cargo across countries. Under this deal, member states would be allowed use the roads of other member states for the transportation of goods and passengers.
While some security concerns have been raised by BBIN’s critics, more, not less regional connectivity is the solution.
But plans mean nothing if not implemented properly. All four countries involved must commit fully to co-operate on all kinds of infrastructure-building, which include the land ports, and safer and speedier highways.
In time, positive effects of the BBIN corridor could mean not just access to greater markets, but also improved living standards, health care, and education.