• Wednesday, May 27, 2020
  • Last Update : 01:08 am

Benapole port closure leaves 2,000 workers jobless

  • Published at 07:38 pm April 2nd, 2020
benapole-mobile-vehicle-scanner-edited-1530278194805.jpg
A mobile vehicle scanner at Benapole Land Port Dhaka Tribune

Around 400 trucks carrying goods from India enter Bangladesh while around 200 go to the neighbouring country every day

Over 2,000 workers of Benapole Land Port have been jobless for nine days as the export-import activities through the port remained suspended since March 24 in a bid to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Besides, several hundred NGO workers who are dependent on the port and customs house here are going through a tough time due to the ongoing shutdown across the country.

Traders find it convenient for exporting and importing goods through the land port due to better communications system with neighbouring India.

Around 400 trucks carrying goods from India enter Bangladesh while around 200 go to the neighbouring country every day.

Around 2,000 workers are engaged at the port. Besides, several hundred NGO workers work at the port and customs house to earn their livelihoods.

But all of this halted as India enforced a countrywide lockdown from March 23 till April 14, which effectively shut down Benapole port activities.

As a result, hundreds of cargo trucks are trapped on both sides of the borders, the majority of which contains raw material of the export-oriented garment industry in Bangladesh. 

No cargo truck has entered the port of Benapole through India's Petrapole port from March 22 until now. 

Traders fear huge losses due to the closure of the two ports. So far, it has not had any effect. However, they warned that if factories remained closed for indefinitely, it would hamper manufacturing of goods and may cause prices of essential commodities to hike.

Sabuj Miah, a member of Benapole Port Handling Workers Union, said there was no source of income available for workers as port operations ceased.

Sajedur Rahman, general secretary of Benapole C&F Agent Staff Association, said they were also enduring the most of trade inactivity at the port.

Kartik Chakraborty, general secretary of India's Petrapole C&F Agent Staff Welfare Association, said the lockdown has hampered border trade, including all imports and exports.

Benapole Importers Association vice-president Aminul Haque Anu said that the importers of Indian-Bangladeshi products have begun to incur losses and that urgent action was needed to cut the losses.

Assistant Commissioner of Benapole Customs House Uttam Chakma, said import-export trade between the two countries was closed to prevent the spread of coronavirus. 

"It was not said when it will resume," he added.

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