Car ride from Kolkata to Dhaka a reality soonKrishnendu Bandyopadhyay Times of India A trip to Chittagong or Dhaka by your own car from Kolkata without any hassles will soon become a reality with the BBIN (Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal) agreement facilitating this seamless sub-regional cross-border movement of passengers and goods coming into force shortly.
On September 8 and 9, the BBIN countries are expected to finalize the protocol at Dhaka to boost sub-regional connectivity, people-to-people contact and commerce, sources said. Earlier, the transport ministers of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal signed the agreement on June 15 in Thimphu, as they vowed to connect each other by December.
The draft protocol has specified authorized routes for transit traffic across the four countries and identified rest and recreation places for drivers and crew, repair facilities and refueling centres. The designated authorities of the respective countries will provide international road signs and signals along the specified routes, wherever required.
A vehicle will require as many as 11 different documents to enter the territory of another contracting party and vehicles registered in one BBIN country and operating under this agreement will not be permitted to transport local passengers and goods within the territory of other BBIN country or countries, the draft protocol elaborated.
BBIN agreement aims to promote safe, economical efficient and environmentally sound road transport in the sub-region and will further help each country in creating an institutional mechanism for regional integration. "BBIN countries will be benefited by mutual cross-border movement of passengers and goods for overall economic development of the region. The people of the four countries will benefit through seamless movement of goods and passengers across borders. A lot of issues are expected to be simplified for sub-regional cooperation," said Bengal's principal secretary (transport) Alapan Bandyopadhyay, who will be a member of the Government of India delegation to Dhaka.
Besides facilitating transit, the four BBIN countries embarked on 28 road projects with an estimated cost of $8 billion for better connectivity. All these projects are being funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), a Ministry of road transport and highways (MoRTH) official said.
The interim arrangement between the four countries has been titled "Motor Vehicles Agreement for the Regulation of Passenger, Personal, and Cargo Vehicular Traffic between Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal (BBIN)" or the MVA agreement. The draft contains a list of prohibited or restricted goods like firearms and contraband items. Each country will establish a national land transport facilitation committee, the draft protocol proposes. Fees and charges will be paid in the currency of the BBIN country where the vehicle is entering. "Nothing in this clause exempts the vehicles of another BBIN country from the commercial charges payable on the highways, toll-ways so long as the same are equally applicable to the vehicles of the destination or transit BBIN country," said the protocol draft.
A BBIN friendship motor rally has been planned in October 2015 to highlight the sub-regional connectivity and the scope and opportunities for greater people-to-people contact and trade under the BBIN initiative. The MVA would reduce transport costs and foster development of multi-modal transport and transit facilities, enabling increased connectivity and promotion of greater trade between the four countries.