The National Board of Revenue (NBR) has allowed container train service on the Benapole-Petrapole route for the import of essential commodities in the wake of disruption in the movement of trucks carrying imported items.
The movement of trucks remained suspended on this route since March 23 last following the coronavirus outbreak.
The NBR has permitted the side-door container train service on the temporary basis to ensure smooth flow of import of essential commodities from India.
Through a letter on Thursday, the international trade and agreement of the customs wing of NBR gave the permission to Benapole Customs House (BCH) to handle rail containers.
The NBR also asked the BCH to conduct 100 per cent physical inspection of imported goods and comply with some other conditions.
With this permission in place, there will be no restrictions on the import of all types of goods by rail.
BCH commissioner Belal Hossain said, "We have sought the permission to ensure smooth supply chain inside the country during the Covid-19 pandemic."
However, the container train service will be reviewed once the coronavirus situation becomes normal.
Earlier, only freight train carrying bulk cargoes such as stone, stone chips, rice and paddy could be imported through different rail routes including Benapole-Petrapole and Darshana-Gede.
Recently, onion, fly ash, chili, ginger and turmeric have also been imported by rail.
In 2018, a container train arrived in Bangladesh through Gede-Darshana on pilot basis but the service didn't start on regular basis.
According to the NBR letter, facilities related to unloading, preservation and physical inspection of goods in port areas should be developed with the help of Bangladesh Land Port Authority and Bangladesh Railway before the arrival of import consignments.
The customs house will also have to prepare a standard operation procedure (SOP) for customs assessment of the rail consignments.
Also, import-export data will have to be sent to the NBR on regular basis so that it can take decision on whether the service would be continued or not after the Covid-19 pandemic.