Trial runs on Dhaka-Darjeeling, Dhaka-Sikkim routes likely on Thursday
The government has taken initiatives to open a direct road network between Bangladesh and India.
The decision came after a meeting recently held by the Thematic Group on Regional Connectivity at the Road Transport and Highways Division.
To this end, the Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) is going to run a trial bus service from Dhaka to Darjeeling and Dhaka to Sikkim on Thursday– upon getting the necessary approval.
“A proposal to launch the trial bus services [on Dhaka-Darjeeling and Dhaka-Sikkim routes] on December 12 [Thursday] has been sent to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO),” BRTC Secretary Saidur Rahman told the Dhaka Tribune on Tuesday evening. “If we get the approval, two buses will leave for Sikkim and Darjeeling, and will return to the city after a five-day tour, on December 16.
“We are also planning to start the Dhaka-Siliguri-Gangtok (Sikkim)-Dhaka and Dhaka-Siliguri-Darjeeling-Dhaka trial bus routes though it is yet in its initial stage,” he added.
Although road connectivity between Bangladesh and India already exists, it is not direct – passengers have to change buses at the border. But under the new initiatives, passengers will not have to change buses.
The Thematic Group on Regional Connectivity comprises officials from the Road Transport and Highways Division and the Roads and Highways Department, both under the Ministry of Road Transport and Bridges.
Their recent meeting stated that it plans to open direct road network between Bangladesh and India as soon as possible, because the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA) has been delayed due to Bhutan’s temporary withdrawal from the BBIN-MVA.
Chandan Kumer Dey, additional secretary of the Road Transport and Highways Division and member of the Thematic Group on Regional Connectivity, said: “Bangladeshi and Indian tourists are interested in visiting tourist destinations in private cars, SUVs, motorbikes or buses. Thus, we plan to open a direct road network between Bangladesh and India as soon as possible.”
When asked, Chandan informed Dhaka Tribune that a proposal was sent to India to organize the trial run with fixing the participants.
The BBIN countries signed the Motor Vehicle Agreement (MVA) for free movement of goods and passengers among the four countries on June 15, 2015.
Under the agreement, the contracting parties will allow trucks and trailers with containers, passenger vehicles – hired or personal – to ply in the territory of other contracting parties.
During the NAM Summit, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina spoke with her Nepali counterpart KP Sharma Oli where they decided to carry on with open road network project without Bhutan.
The trial bus service on the Bangladesh-India-Nepal route flagged off on April 23. Bangladesh representatives, who were in the trial bus service suggested the Nepal government to improve the road infrastructure as the Nepali roads were not smooth for plying. The Nepal government have yet to implement the recommendations and upgrade their roads.
The Thematic Group on Regional Connectivity came up with the observation that it would take a long time for Nepal to improve their road conditions.
Meanwhile, during her recent visit to New Delhi, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi discussed working towards a bilateral India-Bangladesh Motor Vehicles Agreement.