Increased export pressure at the Bangladesh side of Benapole-Petrapole Port has continued to cause heavy traffic congestion in the area since it started 20 days ago.
Transport workers are suffering immensely as they have had to wait for days inside their vehicles, reports bdnews24.com.
“I came to Benapole from Dhaka carrying export goods on Sept 12. But I still have not managed to enter India. There are no arrangements for living, eating and using toilets here. It is very difficult,” said Rahmat Ali, a truck driver stuck at the port.
In addition to drivers, locals and commuters in the area have also suffered due to the gridlock, which stretched about five kilometres from Jessore-Benapole main road to the Rural Electrification Office at Sharsha Sadar Upazila on Tuesday.
Previously, around 100 to 150 trucks arrived at the port in a day. This has now more than doubled, Md Mamun Kabir Tarafdar, deputy director (traffic) of Benapole Land Port Authority, or BLPA, said.
"Exports have increased in the last two weeks. But India cannot accept more than 215 trucks per day. This is causing heavy traffic due to the number of freight vehicles," Mamun said.
He said the issue was discussed with the Indian side of the port to fast-track the export business.
“They said that they can accept more than 200 trucks from 6 am to 11 pm every day.”
Currently, a lot of rice-bran, jute and jute products are being transported to India via the land port.
As many as 300 trucks are arriving here every day. But India is accepting only 150-200 cargo trucks to cross into India, which has led to endless congestion, said Mofizur Rahman Sajan, president of the Benapole Customs C&F Agents Association.
Abdul Latif, joint general secretary of an export-import union opined that the export business is greatly disrupted as Indian customs are taking too much time to inspect and release Bangladeshi products.
Md Abdul Jalil, another BLPA deputy director (traffic) said some initiatives were taken to reduce traffic in the region. “Already some land has been acquired. Some infrastructure was built there.”
“We have plans to increase the amount of acquired land to construct infrastructure. The capacity crisis of the port will be overcome when this construction is complete.”
Around 70 per cent of the import goods that come by land are brought to Bangladesh via the land port. In the 2020-21 fiscal year, over 2.7 million tonnes of product were imported through the land port while 297,048 tonnes of goods were exported.
But during the 2018-19 fiscal year exports rose as high as 400,000 tonnes, which later shrank the next year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Exports have risen once again as virus transmission has been going down in both India and Bangladesh.