Dhaka, July 22 : The trial transshipment of goods from India to its northeast, via the sea route, started on Tuesday after four containers bound for the region were unloaded from a merchant vessel at Bangladesh’s Chittagong port, officials said on Tuesday.
India and Bangladesh had signed an MoU for goods for northeast India transiting via Bangladesh’s ports – a small but significant opening up of both Bangladesh’s ports under the broader economic relationship between the two countries.
Chittagong Port Authority Secretary Md Omar Faruk told IANS on Tuesday: “The first ship under the trial run of transshipment of Indian goods to its northeastern states through Bangladesh arrived at Chattogram (Chittagong) port on Tuesday morning.
“MV Shejyoti, carrying back to Chattogam 4 TEUs (20-feet equivalent unit) with 221 containers full of transhipment goods from India’s Haldia port, reached the NCT-1 Berth, the outer anchorage of Chattogram port at around 1.25 a.m. But as night navigation is restricted in the port, that is why we started the navigation at morning,” he said.
MV Shejyoti had left the Syama Prasad Mukherjee port of Kolkata on July 17.
Handling of the containers was completed before midnight and the container trailers started for Akhaura with an escort provided by Bangladesh’s customs security.
Shipping agent sources said the four containers under the trial transshipment contain iron rods and pulses. Those will head to Agartala through the Akhaura Land Port. The consignment of rods will be brought to West Tripura’s Jirania from Agartala, while the pulses will go to Assam’s Karimganj.
Habibur Rahman of Mango Lines, the agent for the merchant vessel, had said that offloading may begin also on Tuesday after completing the formalities.
Indian transshipment goods would enjoy a 28-day free-stay after offloading at the port as per the international transshipment agreement.
Bangladesh will earn 254 takas from the scanning of each container loaded with transshipment goods. Bangladeshi importers also pay the same charge.
Similarly, 30 takas document processing fee for each consignment of Indian goods will be levied, the same amount charged on Bangladeshi importers.
Joint Commissioner of the Customs House S.M. Shamsuzzaman said the transshipped goods will have to pay police 50 takas per tonne as escort charge to reach the Indian border in Tripura from the port by road.
Usually a 20 feet container carries a maximum of 30 tons of goods. According to this estimation, Bangladesh will realise around 1, 500 takas as escort charge for accompanying goods of a container to the border.
Akhaura Customs Officer Harunur Rashid said they have taken necessary preparations for the transportation of the Indian goods, under the trial run.
India is transporting goods to its northeastern states, using Bangladeshi ports, as per the agreement on “The Use of Chattogram and Mongla Ports for Movement of Goods to and from India” signed between Dhaka and Delhi in 2018 and a standard operating procedure (SoP) signed in October 2019.
Earlier, the Indian government used the Ashuganj river port to transport goods for the Palatana Power Plant in Tripura through the Akhaura land port.
On the new chapter in connectivity with Bangladesh via container shipping, India’s Shipping Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said that the transit route will open new opportunities for both countries.
He said that it will provide an alternative and shorter route to connect the northeast region through Bangladesh, reducing distance and time taken in transportation of goods for India and is a win-win for both the economies. On the other hand, job creation, investment in the logistical sector, enhanced business services and revenue generation are advantages that will accrue to Bangladesh. Bangladeshi vessels and trucks will be utilised to move the Indian cargo, the Indian government said.
India and Bangladesh have enhanced cooperation in shipping and inland water trade in recent years. Under the Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade, in addition to the six existing Ports of Call, five more in each country have been added recently. Dredging of inland waterway routes is ongoing under an MoU, signed by the two countries on development of selected stretches of Bangladesh waterways.
The trial transportation of goods to the northeastern states by road, via Bangladesh, had started earlier.