Published: February 12, 2024, 05:16 PM
Cargo ferries between Bangladesh and India have begun to operate, traveling from the Sultanganj Ferry Terminal in Godagari upazila in Rajshahi to the Maya Ferry Terminal in Murshidabad, India.
The initiative complies to the shipping agreement established between the two countries and seeks to enhance trade and commerce between Bangladesh and India.
Indian High Commissioner Pranay Verma attended the inauguration along with State Minister of Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury and AHM Khairuzzaman Liton, Mayor of Rajshahi City Corporation on Monday.
In his address during the ceremony, the Indian high commissioner emphasized the new river channel as part of India`s developing economic and connectivity linkages with Bangladesh, as well as a visual reflection of the two countries` recent development.
He emphasized the importance of multimodal connectivity in realizing the full potential of bilateral cooperation, defining the reopening of the Maya-Sultanganj river route as a step that will benefit not only local economies on both sides of the border, but will also contribute to national economies and strengthen sub-regional collaboration and integration.
Pranay Verma said that India was Bangladesh`s major export destination in Asia. He hoped that improved connectivity and additional initiatives such as commerce in Indian currency will boost Bangladeshi exports to India.
Talking about other forward-looking initiatives, Verma mentioned the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (Cepa) between India and Bangladesh, for which discussions will begin soon.
The inauguration of the Sultanganj, Godagari Port of Call, as well as the flagging-off of a cargo vessel from Sultanganj (Bangladesh) to Maya (India), marks the first of five cargo vessel trial movements on Indo Bangladesh Protocol (IBP) Route 5&6.
There is significant opportunity for cargo transportation along this IBP Route, which is predicted to boost the Inland Waterways ecosystems in both countries.
According to exporter Bashir Ahmed, on the first day, 11,700kg of textile waste was shipped in 310 bags for testing purposes.
“Earlier, we used to send them to India through Burimari and Sonamasjid ports. This time, we used the new route. We are expecting it will take less time, about one and a half hours. Hopefully, it will cost less time and money,” he said.
Trade between India`s Sultanganj-Maya and Godagari-Lalgola river terminals continued till the Indo-Pak War in 1965.
However, due to the controversy, the route was eventually closed.