Export-import through land ports in tatters amid blockade
Indian exporters reluctant to send trucks into BangladeshJasim Uddin
Export-import business with neighboring countries, mostly with India, through land ports and land customs stations remained almost suspended due to ongoing political unrest, particularly frequent spells of nonstop blockades and hartals, trading insiders said.
Exporters, importers and clearing and forwarding agents said that export-import activities came to a halt during non-stop blockades and hartals mainly due to lack of transportation and security.
Under the circumstances, traders waited for the normal days when there is no hartal or blockade, and for weekly holidays for conducting export-import trade and delivering export-import goods to different destinations across the country, they said.
Indian exporters are showing reluctance to send their goods laden trucks inside Bangladesh fearing vandalism and arson while Bangladeshi importers also refrained from importing as there is no security for their goods and trucks on the highways.
Traders and C&F agents working at different land ports told New Age that hundreds of trucks laden with export and import goods remained stuck on both sides of the border with India during the strikes and blockades.
Being failed to deliver goods to destinations, traders chose to stockpile imported goods at warehouses and port areas and in some cases, Indian exporters were taking back their goods, they said.
On the other hand, Bangladesh’s exports to India have also come to a halt, they added.
The government is also losing huge amount in revenues because of such terrible business environment, the National Board of Revenue officials said, adding that revenue collection from export and import sectors declined significantly in last two months.
Benapole C&F Agents Association president Shamsur Rahman on Tuesday said that hundreds of trucks remained stuck on both sides during the strikes as importers considered of carrying the goods risky on security ground.
‘Perishable goods will rot if it cannot be delivered to different parts of the country on time while there is none to take responsibilities if goods laden trucks are set on fire on the highways,’ he said.
Considering these risks, traders become afraid of importing and releasing goods, he said.
On the other hand, traders even cannot stock imported goods at warehouses at Benapole port due to lack of empty space, he added.
‘In last few days, we managed to unload goods from the trucks which were stuck during blockades and hartals,’ he said.
Bhomra (Satkhira) C&F Agents’ Association secretary Ohidual Islam told New Age that Indian exporters did not send their goods laden trucks during hartals and blockades fearing vandalism and arson attacks while importers also did not take risks as they could not release the products.
‘We wait for Friday and the days free from strikes for delivering goods. On Saturday, we released around 500 trucks which were stuck at port,’ he said, adding that most of the days of the month, traders remained idle.
Jalal Uddin, an importer of Sylhet, who uses Tamabil, said, ‘Being failed to release, we are forced to stockpile around 90 per cent of our imported goods.’
Sona Masjid C&F Agents’ Association general secretary Tohurul Islam Tutul said that India brought back their trucks on Friday last week from zero point at the port fearing vandalism and arson attacks on vehicles.
Everyday, around 300 trucks used to enter Bangladesh carrying imported goods, but during hartals and blockades, no vehicles come in, he said.
Nearly 500 vehicles, most of which laden with fruits, particularly orange imported from Bhutan, remained stuck at Burimari last week, said Ruhul Amin Babul, convener of Burimari C&F Agents’ Association.
Of the stranded trucks, only few could enter Bangladesh on Friday and Saturday. But Bhutanese exporters took back most of their trucks fearing loss, he said on Tuesday.
He said, ‘The political situation is so terrible here that we cannot work even on holidays.’
Orange is highly perishable and a big portion of a shipment becomes rotten if it cannot be released on time, he pointed out.
Trading through Teknaf land port, which is a gateway for export and import with Myanmar, also came to a halt due to blockades, said Didar Hossain, president of local C&F agents’ association.
Traders and C&F agents complained about similar situation at Banglabandha land port in Panchagarh, Akhaura in Brahmanbaria and Hili in Dinajpur.
Abdur Rahman Liton, secretary of Hili C&F Agents’ Assocition, however, said that export-import activities through Hili land port remained almost normal despite little disruption because of hartals and blockades.
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