Transportation of goods through rail cargoes on the Benapole-Petrapole route could reduce the import cost of goods by 50 per cent and ensure fastest delivery after customs assessment, customs authorities said.
The time needed for importing goods, including transportation and customs assessment, would reduce to only six to 12 hours in the rail cargoes as compared to six to seven days in trucks presently.
Although the rail cargoes are currently moving from India to Darshana customs station, those are not well-equipped with required manpower to conduct proper and speedy assessment of goods, officials said.
Talking to the FE, Commissioner of the Benapole Customs House (BCH) Mohammad Belal Hossain Chowdhury said that the customs house is capable to complete assessment of 60 per cent of the imported goods within a couple of hours in a day.
He said the port has completed customs assessment in record 10 minutes on Tuesday which could be termed as a milestone in the country's customs history.
"We need sufficient rail wagons to expedite import of goods through the route in a bid to ensure smooth supply of products amid Covid-19 pandemic," he said.
The prices of imported products would be cheaper if importers use rail cargoes instead of trucks, he added.
Although the existing infrastructure of the customs house is capable to handle the goods of rail cargo, he said a small amount of investment in this route can make the deliveries faster.
Import of some commercial goods having the date of expiry remained stuck in the port now due to lack of sufficient rail cargos from India, he said. Those goods include spare parts, powdered milk, chocolates etc.
He said unloading of products at Darshana port might cause delay in customs assessment as well as leakage of revenue due to poor infrastructure and insufficient manpower.
Currently, rice, onion, chili, ginger etc. are being imported through the rail cargo at the BCH.
One railway wagon has the capacity to bring goods equivalent to goods carried by four trucks.
A large amount of products could be imported within a short time through using the rail cargoes to meet the local demand, he added.
The rail cargoes can reach Benapole in three and half hours while it takes a week in trucks due to different procedural complexities.
Officials said extortion in goods-laden trucks increases the cost of imported products and the consumers have to pay additional prices.
The use of rail cargoes can resolve the problem, but a syndicate in the Bongaon is trying to hinder smooth operation of rail cargoes, they said.
They are involved in extortion from trucks, the officials said.
The annual trade volume through Benapole port, the largest land customs station of the country, would be around Tk 350 billion.
On May 31 last, some 2,600 tonnes of dry chili, turmeric and ginger were imported with 42 rail wagons at the port.
Earlier on May 19 last, jute seeds and paddy seeds were imported with some 21 rail wagons.
In this pandemic, expedited import of those seeds helped the farmers to continue their farming to meet the local demand for food.