Port users’ protest halts import from India through Benapole
Import from India through Benapole remained suspended since yesterday morning, as the port's users and stakeholders went for protesting India's restriction on exports from Bangladesh.
The biggest channel for trade between the two neighbouring nations reopened on June 7 after remaining closed for three months due to coronavirus-induced shutdown.
Since June 7, some 4,188 Indian good-laden trucks entered Bangladesh, said Mamun Kabir Tarafdar, deputy director of Benapole Port Authority.
"But India did not allow any export from Benapole, as it believes Bangladeshi vehicles would spread coronavirus there," he added.
To protest such a unilateral decision, five organisations involved with trade through Benapole stopped processing papers of Indian trucks to bar imports, said Mafizur Rahman Sazan, president of Benapole Clearing & Forwarding Agents' Association.
"Our protest will continue until the export and import from both sides start," he added.
The officials concerned in Petrapole said there is no barrier on trade from the central government, which controls the Indian port, according to Tarafdar.
The state government took control of the port when the pandemic began and ordered Petrapole to stop Bangladeshi trucks to curb the spread of coronavirus, said Kartik Chakrabarty, secretary of Petrapole C&F Agent Staff Welfare Association.
"We are negotiating with the state government to get permission for imports from Bangladesh, as both the parties are incurring losses for this barrier," he added.
Some 500 trucks loaded with goods are now stranded at Benapole port to be exported to India, said Aminul Haque Anu, vice-president of the Benapole Exporters' Association.
"We are incurring huge losses every day for the suspension of export since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic," he added.
Some 500 trucks used to enter Petrapole from Benapole before the coronavirus outbreak, which came down to 250 after the trade resumption, according to Tarafdar.
Normally 250 trucks laden with goods are exported to India in a day, he added.