As a trial run for the landmark four-nation motor vehicle agreement, a goods-laden truck from Kolkata reached Agartala in north-east India yesterday by travelling through Bangladesh.
It took the truck less than three days to reach its destination, a journey that would have stretched to eight days had it solely plied through the Indian territory, said Feroz Jahangir, head of ocean freight at DHL Global Forwarding, which conducted the shipment.
Signed by Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal in Thimphu in June, the BBIN Motor Vehicle Agreement will allow seamless transit of passengers, goods and transit cargo between the four countries.
The freight truck departed Kolkata on Sunday morning and by evening it entered Bangladesh through the Benapole border.
It then drove through the Bangabandhu bridge over the Jamuna river, Gazipur, Brahman-baria and Akhaura to re-enter the Indian territory. It reached Agartala in the north-eastern state of Tripura at around 1.30pm.
It covered 559 kilometres. Had the truck just travelled through the Indian territory, the distance would have been 1,559 kilometres.
The truck carried two consignments — one for Bata Shoes, which was offloaded in Benapole, and another for Indian mobile operator Vodafone for drop-off to Agartala.
Jahangir said it did not take them much time to complete the formalities at the Akhaura border as Bangladeshi officials checked the goods in the truck at Benapole border and sealed it.
The customs officials in Akhaura just checked if the seal was intact and let the truck go.
The road from Brahmanbaria to Akhaura is very narrow, winding and of low-quality. If it is broader and straight, it would be much easier to carry goods, Jahangir said.
Police escorted the truck when it travelled from Benapole to Akhaura, while officials of the roads and highways division enquired about the truck from time to time.
A customs official from India accompanied the truck to see for himself the problems faced on the way. Jahangir said the official is happy about the overall management of the trial run, but felt some parts of the roads need improvement.
He also called for refreshment spots along the route for truck drivers.
Vijay Chhibber, secretary of the Indian ministry of road transport and highways, and Miah Md Mainul Kabir, Bangladesh’s deputy high commissioner in Kolkata, inaugurated the trial run in Kolkata on Sunday.
At present, work on fixing the fees and other issues is going on.
Source: The Daily Star