Long queues of import-laden trucks at Burimari land port
Around 400 trucks carrying imported goods from India are waiting to unload goods at the Burimari land port of Patgram upazila in Lalmonirhat due to a shortage of space in customs' warehouses.
This has created traffic congestion in the land port. Dissatisfaction has arisen among the importers as the authorities have not taken immediate steps to unload the imported goods from these vehicles.
The Burimari land port authorities say huge quantities of maize and rice have been imported from India for the past week. The port has three warehouses with a capacity of 1,800 tonnes. These warehouses are full of imported goods. Therefore, fresh arrivals of imported rice and maize cannot be kept there.
Mona Das, driver of a truck carrying rice from India, told The Daily Star that he had been stranded at the Burimari land port from Sunday. Rice was not being unloaded from his truck. If the imported rice is not unloaded from the truck in time, it may be ruined, he said.
Bhutiram Das, driver of a truck carrying maize from India, said he had been stranded at the Burimari land port from Saturday. The goods were not being unloaded from his truck. He is in dire straits as he is stuck in the Burimari land port with goods from India. He appealed to the authorities for unloading goods from his truck as soon as possible.
Abu Sayeed Newaz Nishat, a trader at the Burimari land port, said that since there was a shortage of space in the customs warehouse, giving traders the opportunity to unload their imported rice and maize in their own warehouses would increase trade benefits.
This reduces traffic congestion of imported goods-laden trucks at the Burimari land port. Due to traffic congestion, many imported trucks are not able to come from India. He is hopeful that the authorities will take action soon.
Ruhul Amin Babul, president of the Burimari Land Port Clearing and Forwarding (C&F) Agents Association, said he had talked to customs and Bangladesh Land Port authorities and they had promised to resolve the matter expeditiously.
"The traders will unload the goods from the customs yard to their own warehouses after paying all the dues including VAT and taxes to the government," he said.
"The traders have to have their own warehouse within three kilometers of the port gazette area. They will only be able to unload only the imported rice and maize at their own warehouse," he said.
"If the authorities do not implement such measures quickly, traffic congestion at the Burimari land port will continue to increase, disrupting trade and government revenue collection," he said.
"As there is a shortage of transport support at Burimari land port for the last few days, many importers are not taking their goods from the land port's warehouse," he said.
Importers say repairs on the Lalmonirhat-Burimari highway was taking trucks more time to traverse the path, for which the number of trucks available are down by some 60 per cent, prompting many to take advantage of the situation to charge as much as 20 per cent higher.
Kefayet Ullah Mozumder, assistant commissioner of customs at the Burimari land port, said that Bangladesh Land Port Authority would take action in this regard.
Due to delays in unloading of imported goods, many vehicles carrying imported goods are not able to enter from India due to traffic congestion, he said.
"Except for 17 items including duplex board, newsprint, crafts paper, cigarette paper and all other paper, yarn, juice, powdered milk, tobacco, potato, radio-TV parts, bicycle parts, formica sheet, ceramic ware, sanitary ware, stainless steel ware, marble slabs and tiles and mixed fabrics, all kind of goods are allowed for importing from India and Bhutan at Burimari land port," he said.
"Mainly garment and food items are being exported to India and Bhutan through this land port," he said.
Ruhul Amin, assistant director of the Burimari land port, said he had discussed the matter with higher authorities.
Immediate action is being taken to unload imported rice and maize. As there is a shortage of space in the warehouse, trade will be kept running in this land port by unloading the imported rice and maize at the traders' own warehouses as per the rules, he said.
"Around 400 trucks with imported goods, mainly maize and rice, were stranded at the Burimari land port till Wednesday afternoon," he said.
"Huge number of trucks with imported goods were waiting in India for entering into Bangladesh but due to traffic congestion here at Burimari land port these trucks were not entering," he said.
"On an average 400-450 trucks with imported goods from India and Bhutan enter the Burimari land port every day but due to the traffic congestion for the last four days only 200-220 trucks are entering with imported goods," said Ruhul Amin.
"Around 12,000 to 13,000 tonnes of imported goods arrive on 400-450 trucks from India and Bhutan to the Burimari land port every day and 800 to 900 tonnes of goods are exported by 80 to 90 trucks to India through this land port every day," he said.
"We have told the importers for taking their goods from the land port's warehouse but they are delaying showing the cause of a shortage of transport support," he said, hoping that the problem would be solved within two to three days.