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Govt looks to open Ramgarh land port by next year : BLPA

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DHAKA : The government is keen to open Ramgarh land port in Khagrachhari by 2023 in order to boost trade with north-eastern states of India, according to officials of the Bangladesh Land Port Authority (BLPA).

“Work orders for developing the necessary infrastructure have already been awarded to various contractors at an estimated cost of Tk 123 crore,” said Mohammad Jahangeer Kobir, member (traffic) of the BLPA.

Besides, the BLPA aims to make at least immigration services available at the land port by the end of this year.

Kobir informed that Indian authorities had previously urged Bangladesh’s government to begin immigration services even ahead of import-export activities at Ramgarh.

An inter-ministerial meeting was held to this end at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where an approval was sought from the Ministry of Home Affairs to begin immigration through the land port.

In addition, India has already started constructing integrated check-posts in Sabroom of Tripura in anticipation of the movement of goods and travellers once the port becomes operational, Kobir added.

The BLPA has acquired 10 acres of land in Ramgarh to establish the necessary port infrastructure, which is being developed with financial support from the World Bank under the regional connectivity project.

Kobir went on to say that even if construction is not complete within the stipulated time, temporary sheds would be set up to facilitate import-export activities as both governments are keen to begin commercial operations as soon as possible.

In March 2021, Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi jointly inaugurated the Bangladesh-India Friendship Bridge-1 over the Feni river in Ramgarh.

The two premiers had laid the foundation stone for the bridge, which connects Tripura of India with Ramgarh, via a video conference earlier on June 6, 2015.

Once the associated land port becomes operational, this bridge will facilitate the movement of goods to and from Bangladesh and the north-eastern states of India.

The BLPA hopes to export all kinds of products through Ramgarh but it has also identified that Bangladesh could import livestock, fruit, wood, seeds, wheat, stone, coal, fertiliser, and so on once the port officially opens.

On August 18, 2020, the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council approved a Tk 848.3 crore project to widen the road that connects the Dhaka-Chattogram highway with Ramgrah land port.

As such, widening of the 38-kilometre Baraiyerhat-Hiako-Ramgarh road to 7.3 metres from 5.5 metres is being performed by the Roads and Highways Department between January 2020 and June 2022.

India would provide Tk 581.2 crore for the project from the third Indian line of credit extended to Bangladesh, which will bear the rest of the cost.

The project would contribute to establishing a road network between Chattogram port and the Ramgarh land port, opening the door for two-way trade between Bangladesh and India through the Sabroom/Ramgarh land port, according to project documents.

The proposed road is 72 kilometres off from Chattogram port and 201 kilometres off from Dhaka.

The project, which was included in the list of newly approved projects in the annual development programme last fiscal year, is expected to widen the import and export activities between India and Bangladesh, and improve the socio-economic conditions of people in the area.

The project’s implementation would also establish a safe, developed, time and cost efficient road transport network between the two countries, the project proposal says.

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