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Another land port opening marks new era in India-Bangladesh trade relations

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DHAKA : If all proceeds according to plan, a state-of-the-art Integrated Checkpost (ICP) is poised for inauguration at Sabroom in Tripura on the Indian side, and in Ramgarh Upazila in Bandarban on the Bangladesh side, on Saturday, marking a significant milestone in border relations between the two countries.

Top government officials in Delhi have hinted that both Prime Ministers, Sheikh Hasina and Shri Narendra Modi, will virtually attend the inauguration ceremony on Saturday morning.

An ICP serves as a modern terminal and logistics hub located at international borders, facilitating the seamless movement of goods and passengers between two countries. It consolidates various systems, including customs, immigration, container transshipment, and warehousing, all under one roof, thereby streamlining trade and travel processes.

The launch of this ICP signifies the commencement of another modern land port between India and Bangladesh at the border town of Sabroom in Tripura.

Currently, the largest ICP between the two countries is situated on the Petrapole-Benapole border. However, experts anticipate that the volume of trade and passenger traffic on the Sabroom-Ramgarh route may even surpass that in the coming days.

Several factors contribute to this anticipation. Sabroom is located less than 80km from the commercial capital of Bangladesh, Chittagong, by road.

India has long been granted permission to use the Chittagong port, further enhancing Sabroom’s potential to become the primary gateway for goods movement in the Northeast region of India.

Additionally, it is within 100km from the Matarbari deep-sea port, currently under construction in Bangladesh. When Matarbari becomes operational in three years, traffic through Sabroom is expected to increase significantly.

Furthermore, the construction of the 1.9km long Maitri Setu bridge over the Feni River at the India-Bangladesh border in Sabroom, jointly inaugurated by Narendra Modi and Sheikh Hasina on March 21, 2021, will further enhance connectivity.

The bridge’s utilization was pending until the completion of the ICP. With the launch of the ICP, the traffic on this friendship bridge is expected to soar.

Railway connectivity to Sabroom has also been established, with a broad-gauge rail link connecting it to the rest of India.

In essence, Sabroom is poised for a transformative change with the imminent launch of the ICP, promising to open up new horizons in bilateral trade and people-to-people contacts between India and Bangladesh.

Aditya Mishra, Chairman of the Land Ports Authority of India (LPAI), along with other top officials, visited Sabroom last month to assess the progress of the ICP’s construction on the ground.

The visit was aimed at ensuring that all necessary preparations were in place for the inauguration. Following the visit, rapid progress was made in completing the remaining 10% of the ICP’s construction and the associated road infrastructure connecting Sabroom to Bangladesh.

A meeting between delegations from India and Bangladesh was held on January 22 on the No Man’s Land of the friendship bridge over the Feni River to finalize plans for the inauguration of the ICP.

The Indian delegation, led by LPAI Chairman Aditya Mishra, and the Bangladesh delegation, led by Ramgarh Port Authority Director Sarwar Alam, along with other officials, discussed the final preparations for the event.

At the groundbreaking ceremony of the ICP in Sabroom three years ago, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi emphasized that enhancing connectivity between India and Bangladesh was not only about fostering friendship but also about creating new trade and traffic corridors.

Spread over 49 acres of land, the Sabroom Integrated Checkpost between Bangladesh and India’s Northeast is poised to achieve precisely that.

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