Petrapole trade impasse ends as 5 trucks roll on both sides
TimesOfIndia, 06 July 2020
Kolkata: The border impasse over export of Indian goods and import of Bangladeshi goods came to an end on Sunday afternoon when five trucks from the Benapole end rolled into Petrapole and five from the Petrapole end reached Benapole in Bangladesh.
Exports to Bangladesh via Benapole had been at a standstill from Thursday after Bangladeshi traders demanded import permits to India.
On Sunday, trucks that entered from Bangladesh were sanitized and thermal checks were conducted on drivers and helpers. “Utmost care was taken in transporting goods as the trucks would be going back to Bangladesh on Sunday night. But before that, swab tests of Bangladeshi drivers will be done. A medical team had been posted at the international check post to handle the Covid-19 situation,” an official said.
The Petrapole-Benapole border trade was initially halted following lockdown in March. Export of Indian goods resumed from June 7 but from July 1, Bangladeshi traders began protesting against “one-way export” as India was not accepting imports from the neighbour on grounds of Covid-19.
On July 1, only 106 trucks were allowed to enter Benapole while it would normally be 200-250 on an average.
Due to the stalemate, Dhaka wrote to Delhi to allow Bangladeshi imports on July 3. They mentioned export-import was continuing through Changrabandha since July 3 and via Hili since June 8.
On Sunday, Benapole Customs Clearing & Forwarding Agents Association president Md Mofizur Rahman Sazon urged the North 24 Parganas district magistrate to allow imports and said they were ready to cooperate with all precautionary measures as earning foreign exchange was important for all. He also mentioned that the Bongaon municipality was not allowing any cargo to be recorded at the Kalitala parking and this had created confusion on both sides.
Petrapole Land Port Authority manager Suvajit Mandal said around 4.30pm on Sunday, five trucks carrying readymade garments reached Petrapole and three trucks of fish and two of onions went to Benapole.
“The district administration fixed our operations time from 6am to 6pm, when we can allow export of 300 trucks and import of 150 trucks. We can operate 24x7 if the district administration wants,” he added.
Federation of Indian Export Organisations’ regional chairman Sushil Patwari said: “I had contacted CM Mam-ata Banerjee and home secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay and both took a proactive role to end the deadlock. I am happy with export and import being back on track. Exports will go up from Monday.”
Petrapole Clearing Agents Staff Welfare Association secretary Kartick Chakraborty said: “We held a meeting today and hope to handle the unloading of around 40 trucks from Bangladesh, maintaining all Covid-19 safety norms from Monday.”