A worn-out Bailey bridge in Batuli Customs Station and Immigration Check Post area of Juri upazila lies useless for long, badly hampering the export and import business activities.
According to the customs authorities, at present, plastic materials, PVC doors and cotton are exported to India through Batuli customs station. Besides, different types of fruits are imported from India to Bangladesh.
The activities of this customs station and immigration investigation centre started in 2001. The bridge over a hill called Raghnachhara lies in the Indian part within 150 metres of the zero line. With the consent of the both countries, India built the bridge on a small scale in 2008. But there was no approval for the movement of freight vehicles between the two countries through the bridge.
At one stage, freight cars from both countries were parked around the middle of the bridge. The goods were then loaded and unloaded from one vehicle to another. But later, due to heavy rains, the soil on both sides of the Bailey bridge was removed from the hill slopes, putting the bridge under threat. Since then, the export and import business activities in Batuli Customs Station and Immigration Check Post area have been badly hampered.
About two years ago, India took initiative to build a new bridge at that place, but when the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) raised objection to construction of the bridge, the work remained suspended.
Contacted, the BGB said they had no objection to renovation of the old bridge.
But they raised objection to construction of a new bridge at Batuli following the direction of the higher authorities, said BGB-52 Battalion Commander Lt Col Md Shah Alam Siddiqui.
At present, freight cars from both countries are parked on both the approach roads of the bridge for loading and unloading goods, badly hampering business activities as the bridge lies damaged.
The BGB official added that some infrastructural works including roads are left in the customs station area. Once these works are completed, progress can be made in building bridges as needed. For the time being, if India renovates the old bridge, there will be some benefit in import-export.
Moulvibazar Deputy Commissioner Mir Nahid Ahsan said necessary steps will be taken after contacting with the authorities concerned.