India’s waterways to facilitate cheaper transport for Bhutan-Bangladesh trade

Mamuni Das New Delhi | Updated on July 12, 2019 Published on July 12, 2019

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Will save 30% transportation cost, almost 50 per cent time

In a first, Bhutan will transport about 50 trucks worth of crushed stone aggregates to Bangladesh through a barge of India’s Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), saving about 30 per cent transportation cost and eight-ten days time. Bangladesh will send jute and rice to Bhutan in return journey in the same vessel, said Shipping Ministry officials.

These 1,000 tonnes of cargo being shipped in a single 2-000-tonne, self-propelled, vessel of IWAI is replacing 70 trucks of 12 wheels or 50 trucks of 16 wheels, according to Pravir Pandey, Chairman, IWAI. The cost saving of 30 per cent will be higher if the return cargo were to be taken into consideration, he added.

With this, the redeveloped Dhubri port in Assam, with customs facility, jetty and two warehouses that can handle bigger vessels has also been inaugurated. “Earlier, trucks of Bhutan used to ply to Bangladesh with this cargo. At the border, cargo from Bhutan’s trucks were unloaded and reloaded into trucks of Bangladesh. This also involved a customs clearance time of and long queues of truck taking a time of up to 20 days,” Pandey explained. IWAI will get a user fee of two paise per tonne per km.

Minister of State for Shipping (Independent Charge) and Chemical and Fertilisers Mansukhlal Mandaviya digitally flagged off the vessel here Friday, adding that India will provide ₹300 crore to Bangladesh for maintaining the depth of water on this route for five years.

Mandaviya added that the move will facilitate Bhutan and Bangladesh trade through Brahmaputra as a part of Indo-Bangladesh protocol route will also help India access the North-East States from Kolkata, Haldia through the inland waterways via Bangladesh.

The stone aggregates will sail on IWAI vessel MV AAI from Dhubri port in Assam to Narayanganj in Bangladesh through India’s National Waterways 2 and Indo-Bangladesh Protocol Route, informed an official release. The stone aggregates were transported by trucks from Phuentsholing in Bhutan which is 160 km from IWAI’s Dhubri jetty in Assam, it added.

In a related move, Mandaviya said fertiliser moved on inland waterways can also get freight subsidy now like they get for train and road.


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Published on July 12, 2019
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