Rajshahi-Murshidabad river trade route inaugurated
The long-awaited river trade route between Rajshahi in Bangladesh and Murshidabad in India was opened Monday aiming to enhance trade and commerce between Bangladesh and India.
Sultanganj port in Godagari upazila has been opened with the main thrust of strengthening trade and economic ties between the two countries.
With this breakthrough, the river port was initially connected to the Maya port of Murshidabad via Padma river.
The river port has been launched under the Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade (PIWTT) as part of the trade agreement between Bangladesh and India.
The protocol was signed in 1972 and renewed on 31 March in 2020, to ensure both countries benefit from their waterways for trade and commerce.
A 500-tonne capacity barge in the river is equivalent to 25 trucks on the road, and barges use less fuel oil. Prices of goods will naturally fall
State minister for shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury along with Bangladesh Awami League presidium member and Rajshahi City Corporation mayor AHM Khairuzzaman Liton, Indian High Commissioner in Bangladesh Pranay Verma declared the river trade route open.
They also addressed a public meeting there to mark the opening ceremony.
Speaking on the occasion, state minister Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury said the port will contribute to a greater extent towards curtailing transport cost of the imported goods.
Apart from infusing dynamism into Rajshahi’s economy, the trade route will generate massive employment opportunities.
Mayor AHM Khairuzzaman Liton said the distance of this route is only 17 kilometres. During the dry season, 200-300 tonnes of goods can be transported in each cargo. During monsoon, transportation of goods will be a bit challenging due to the strong current in the river.
A small ship carrying two tonnes of cotton departed from Sultanpur port to Maya port to mark the inauguration, with the return cargo from India to be confirmed in the next couple of days.
Mayor Liton said they had been working to launch a river port for more than the last five years. It finally happened because of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s sincere efforts.
The river port will primarily be used to import stones, fly ash, stones, coal, fruits, and spices from India, as well as to export jute and garments from Bangladesh.
This inauguration will generate job opportunities and lower the prices of different commodities due to the low transportation costs when the river port becomes fully operational, hoped the Rajshahi city mayor.
He also stated that the government has plans to extend the river route to Mongla port and conduct joint capital dredging for the river’s navigability by India and Bangladesh.
A 500-tonne capacity barge in the river is equivalent to 25 trucks on the road, and barges use less fuel oil. Prices of goods will naturally fall, he added.