Tuesday, January 22, 2019 | ePaper
Indo-Bangla deal on use of ports soon
Bangladesh is ready to sign three important agreements with India at the end of this month allowing India to use Chattogram and Mongla ports to transport cargoes to its north-eastern states, Shipping Ministry sources said.
A 14-member team of Bangladesh Shipping Ministry led by its Secretary Abdus Samad will fly to the New Delhi on October 23. Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan may join the deal-signing ceremony.
Ministry officials told The New Nation yesterday that the conditions of the agreement on the use of the two ports would be valid for five years and be renewed automatically for another five years. Any of the two sides can cancel or suspend it on six months' notice.
If any problem arises regarding the deal's implementation, both countries will form committees to resolve it, they said.
The deals related to shipping will be inked at a secretary-level meeting in New Delhi from October 24 to 26.
As per the draft of the deal, Indian goods can be transported through four entry points: Akhaura in Bangladesh and Agartala in India; Tamabil in Sylhet and Dauki in Meghalaya; Sheola in Sylhet and Sutarkandi in Assam and Bibirbazar in Cumilla and Srimantapur in Tripura.
Shipping Secretary Abdus Samad said Dhaka and Delhi have to sign Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the deal to take effect.
Earlier at a press meet on October 7, the Shipping Secretary said the fees and other charges would be mentioned in the SOP.
India will have to use local transports for transporting goods through Bangladesh territory.
Chittagong and Mongla ports will not face any problems in handling Indian goods as their capacities have increased greatly, he added.
The cabinet on September 17 approved a draft agreement on the use of the two ports.
The two countries signed a memorandum of understanding on the use of the two ports during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Dhaka in June 2015.
In the upcoming secretary-level meeting, another agreement will be signed to allow passengers to travel between the two countries by cruise ships.
The two sides will sign an SOP for introducing the cruise service, said a shipping ministry official wishing anonymity.
An MoU in this regard was signed during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit to India in April last year.
The shipping secretary said tourists and passengers from Bangladesh will be able to travel to Kolkata, Visakhapatnam and Chennai by cruise ships, while Indian tourists and passengers could cruise to Mongla, Dhaka, Chattogram and Cox's Bazar.
The cruise service will be run by private companies, which will decide on the fares and other related issues.
Seeking anonymity, one of the shipping ministry officials said the SOP would determine the routes and the levies to be slapped by the two countries.