Teknaf land port hit hard by Myanmar conflict

A BGB man stands on alert at Shah Porir Dwip Jettyghat in Cox's Bazar's Teknaf
Prothom Alo

The export-import through Cox’s Bazar’s Teknaf land port has plummeted due to the ongoing conflict in Myanmar.

Imports from Myanmar have fallen and no goods have been exported since December resulting in loss of revenue.

Meanwhile, intermittent gunshots were heard from across the border of Shah Porir Dwip and Saint Martin’s in Teknaf from  last Saturday night to last Sunday evening.

Sources at Teknaf land port said that more than three hundred goods-laden cargo trawlers used to arrive at Teknaf land port every month from various ports of Myanmar's Rakhine state. However, only 50 cargo trawlers have arrived in the first 17 days of February.

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Teknaf land port was opened on 5 September in 1995 to stop smuggling along the Bangladesh-Myanmar border. Teknaf land port, managed by private company, has commercial operations with various river ports including Maungdaw, Akyab ports of Rakhine state of Myanmar.

The port sources said, the goods imported from Myanmar include wood, betel nut, frozen fish, ginger, turmeric, chilli, onion, dried fish, chickpea, pulse, rice, pickle and coconut. The products exported from Bangladesh include plastic products, ready-made clothes, chips, aluminum products, potatoes, cosmetics and various food items.

Major (retd) Syed Ansar Mohammad Kawsar, the manager in charge of security of United Land Port Limited that manages Teknaf land port, told Prothom Alo yesterday that the recent situation in Myanmar has affected the export-import activities. Nothing has been exported to Myanmar through this land port since December till yesterday.

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During a field visit yesterday afternoon, two trawlers and two ships were seen docked in the jetty of the port. No goods-laden trawler or ship was spotted on Naf river. However, various types of products including wood, ginger, betel nuts, coconuts, pickles which came from Myanmar earlier were stored in the open space and warehouse of the port.

Ali Ajgor, the team leader of the workers of the land port, said that about a thousand people work in this land port. Many of them have become unemployed now. Around 60 to 90 trucks are loaded and unloaded daily at the land port during normal times, but the work has now slowed down due to the situation in Myanmar.

Truck driver Amir Hossain said he would go to Dhaka-Chattogram three to five times in a month but has been sitting idle for last 17 days. Other truck drivers are also going through the same situation.

Importer Mohammad Umar Faruk said hundreds of maunds of ginger, coconut, dried fish, betel nuts and chickpeas that were bought at Akyab port have remained stockpiled there. The businessmen would suffer heavy losses if these could not be imported.

Teknaf land port’s customs officer ASM Mosharraf Hossain said that revenue collection has dropped recently.

Sources of the customs and excise department said that Tk 660 million in revenue was collected in October, Tk 480 million in November, Tk 60 million in December, Tk 260 million in January and Tk 280 million till 15 February.

Meanwhile, intermittent gunshots were heard from the other side of the border from Shah Porir Dwip and Saint Martin’s island in Teknaf from last Saturday night to last Sunday evening.

Local resident Abdul Karim told Prothom Alo that gunshots were heard in regular intervals. However, intensity of the firing was less on Sunday.