1,250 tonnes of sugar held up at Benapole
Around 42 trucks carrying 1,250 tonnes of sugar from India have remained stuck at Benapole port for the past 28 days as the local customs authorities allegedly imposed a higher tariff than that stipulated by the government.
Port sources say a total of 84 trucks loaded with 2,500 tonnes of sugar imported in six consignments by Setu Enterprises arrived at Benapole on December 25.
Of them, half were released after paying a tariff of $430 for each tonne of sugar as per the rate set by the National Board of Revenue (NBR), said Abdul Latif, the clearing and forwarding agent of Setu Enterprises.
However, customs authorities then imposed a higher tariff of $570 per tonne for the remaining 1,250 tonnes of sugar following a complaint by the Bangladesh Sugar Refinery Association.
In its complaint, the association stated that sugar is being released from the port by showing lower values than their actual worth.
Latif went on to say that customs authorities cannot increase the tariff beyond the government-stipulated rate at will.
"The 42 sugar-laden trucks remain stuck at the transhipment yard of the port's truck terminal as the importer is unwilling to clear the consignment by paying the higher tariff," he said.
"But if the sugar is cleared off with the payment of the unusually high tariff, the importers will suffer a huge loss," he added.
Latif also said they have been paying Tk 2,000 per day for parking each truck since their arrival from India.
Ashish Sarkar, a driver of one of the Indian trucks, said he has been living in his truck for 28 days now.
"I don't know how many more days I will have to pass here fighting the bitter cold," he added.
Md Shafayet Hossain, joint commissioner of Benapole Custom House, said they will take steps to end this situation in light of instructions from the higher authorities.