Bangladeshis will soon be able to travel to Nepal by road if next month’s trial run of a proposed bus service proves successful with passengers eager to avoid the stresses and expense of flying.
When fully implemented, the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) motor vehicles agreement will open a new horizon for travelers between the member countries.
Personal and commercial vehicles including passenger buses will travel between Dhaka and Kathmandu through Banglabandha and Phulbari borders of Bangladesh and India, and through Panir Tangki and Kakarvita borders of India and Nepal.
Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, a tour operator said the new option should prove popular with passengers.
“Air travel is not only expensive but also comparatively risky as well,” the operator said. “The land route will surpass air travel in matters of convenience and popularity.”
The operator cited the recent tragedy at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu - “the second most unsafe airfield in Asia” - where dozens were killed when a US-Bangla plane crashed on landing.
The governments of Bangladesh, India and Nepal will observe the trial run of a passenger bus service between Dhaka and Kathmandu before making a decision regarding the project’s formal launch.
The timetable for the trial run was fixed following a video conference between officials of the three countries on Tuesday.
“A bus will depart from Dhaka towards Kathmandu on April 27 on a trial run,” Road Transport and Highways Division Joint Secretary Chandan Kumar Dey said.
“Officials of the Road Transport Division, Foreign Ministry, Home Ministry, National Board of Revenue and others will be on the bus.”
Bangladesh and India have already completed a trial run last year on all the proposed routes. Nepal was not ready for the trial at that time due to the country’s political turmoil.
The transport ministers of the four countries signed the agreement on behalf of their sides in Thimphu, Bhutan, on June 15, 2015. However, Bhutan’s parliament is yet to ratify the cross-border transportation agreement (BBIN-MVA).
“In accordance with BBIN-MVA agreement, Bhutan can join after resolving their internal issues,” said Chandan, adding that the cross-border direct motor vehicle movement will continue to be allowed by Bangladesh, India and Nepal.
Shyamal Roy, manager of Shyamoli Paribahan, said tourists will be able to enjoy “the natural beauty of Siliguri” and green mountains while travelling to Kathmandu.
“Many people from Bangladesh would love to visit Nepal if given the choice to avoid air travel due to concerns following the deadly US-Bangla plane crash,” he said. “Road travel is also cheaper.”
Shyamoli Paribahan currently operates bus services to India.
Bangladeshi travelers will be able to travel to Nepal by road after taking a transit visa from India. However, after full implementation of the BBIN agreement, they would not be required to change vehicles during the multiple border crossings.