Cross-border vehicle plying deal inked
Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal today inked the deal that would allow seamless movement of people, cargo and personal vehicles across their borders.
The deal was sealed in Thimpu, capital of Bhutan, around noon Bangladesh time, Walid Foyez, senior communication officer to Road Transport and Bridges Ministry, told The Daily Star.
On Behalf of Bangladesh, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader was present.
Implementation of the treaty titled “Motor Vehicles Agreement for the Regulation of Passenger, Personal, and Cargo Vehicular Traffic with Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN)” may start in a limited scale early next year, according to sources.
After the deal signing, Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay will flag off a vehicle that will run through Bhutan-Gowahati-Shilong-Sylhet-Benapole-Kolkata route to survey the road.
The other possible routes are: Thimphu- Phuentsholing-Jaigaon-Burimari-Mongla/Chittagong, Kathmandu-Kakarvita/Phulbari-Banglabandha-Mongla/Chittagong, Samdrup Jonhkar (Bhutan)-Guwahari-Shilong-Tamabil-Sylhet-Chittagong, Silchar-Sutarkandi-Paturia Ferryghat-Benapole/Petrapole-Kolkata, Silchar-Saturkandi-Chittagong Port and Agartola-Akhaura-Chittagong Port.
Bangladesh's Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader, now in Bhutan, said there would be a trial run of vehicles on all the possible routes in October.
Talking to The Daily Star over the phone, he said the transport secretaries of the four countries at a meeting yesterday finalised all the formalities for the deal signing.
The sub-regional move is an initiative parallel to the proposed Saarc Motor Vehicles Agreement and will be open to other neighbouring countries as well.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister AMA Muhith yesterday said the infrastructure of the route would be improved in about a year.
Talking to reporters at the secretariat, he said at the beginning the transit would start in a very limited scale. “Nothing will happen before a year,” he said.
Routes, custom and immigration procedures along with fees and charges for vehicles are expected to be settled down by December this year.
FEES AND CHARGES
Apart from the transit fees, commercial charges like the toll for highways and bridges will have to be paid under the 4-nation agreement.
Fees and charges for issuance of permit for the vehicles of one member state will be levied at the entry point of the other member country, according to the draft deal
That rate will be decided from time to time by the member states.
The draft agreement says the fees and charges would be paid in the currency of the member state the vehicle entering. In case of passenger vehicles, no additional charges will be applicable except the transit fees.
The standard accessories of vehicle, essential spares, fuel contained in the tank will be exempted from duties and taxes. However, for refueling the vehicle will not get the subsidised fuel prices.
Muhith also said the transit fees and charges would be fixed on the basis of the rules and regulations of the World Trade Organisation.
In 2011, a high-level committee, led by the Bangladesh Tariff Commission chairman, was formed to decide how the transit could be implemented among the four countries.
The body recommended that the base fees should be 7 cents a tonne per kilometre of road transit, 3 cents for railway and 2.5 cents for waterways. According to yesterday's conversion rate, 1 cent is around Tk 0.75.
For example, the minimum transit fee will be around $277 (Tk 20,790) for carrying eight tonnes of goods by road for a distance of 495 kilometres from Silchar-Sutarkandi (Sylhet) to Benapole.
Asked whether they will take into account the report of the tariff commission while determining the fees, the finance minister said the rate was “absolutely high”.