Because of the Covid-19 outbreak, Indian traders stopped importing goods on March 24 for the first time
The commercial activities of Akhaura land port in Brahmanbaria district have been affected once again due to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19).
As six members of the Indian Border Security Force (BSF), two customs and immigration officials of Agartala Integrated Check Post have been affected by Covid-19, Indian traders have stopped importing goods from Bangladesh since Sunday.
As a result, Bangladeshi traders are being deprived of exporting goods worth at least Tk1 crore every day.
Land port sources said Akhaura land port exports a variety of products including stone, cement, fish, dried fruit, edible oil, plastics and fruits to Agartala, the capital of the Indian state of Tripura.
These exported products are supplied from Agartala to seven states known as the Seven Sisters of the country.
Before the Covid-19 outbreak, hundreds of trucks carrying goods worth several crores used to enter Agartala through Akhaura land port every day.
Now, the export is less than half.
Because of the outbreak of Covid-19, Indian traders stopped importing goods on March 24 for the first time.
However, when the lockdown started across India to prevent the spread of coronavirus, the supply of goods from other states of the country was stopped. Indian traders were interested in importing fish and fruit through Akhaura land port.
Exporting from this land port started from April 4. At first only fish was exported. After a while, the export of other goods returned to normal.
However, due to the coronavirus, Indian traders reduced the import of goods. Before the last closure, 40 trucks – loaded with goods - used to go to Agartala every day.
On average, rods, cement, edible oil, fish, dried fruit, plastics and various fruits worth Tk1 crore were exported every day.
According to Akhaura Land Customs Station sources, export has declined alarmingly since the outbreak of Covid-19.
In March, 23,134 tonnes of various products were exported worth Tk53.62 crore. And in April, 4,417 tonnes of goods worth Tk 31.89 crore were exported, while the value of 15,558 metric tonnes of goods exported in May was Tk23.45 crore.
Now, the reduced amount of export is also uncertain as six BSF members, two customs and immigration officials at the Agartala Integrated Check Post are infected with Covid-19.
Since June 7, India is not exporting goods without any declaration. As a result, goods-laden trucks are stuck at Akhaura land port.
And it is causing loss for the traders and the government.
Exports are likely to resume from June 13 at Agartala, if the Covid-19 cases do not increase any further, said sources.
Traders in Akhaura port said the export volume has already declined for Covid-19. And they were in trouble for the sudden closure of exporting goods in India.
Trucks loaded with fruit are stuck in the port while the fruit are getting damaged and becoming rotten. It is increasing losses of the traders.
Shafiqul Islam, general secretary of Akhaura Land Port Importers-Exporters Association, has demanded incentive from the government as exports have dropped significantly due to Covid-19 outbreak.
"Indian traders have said they will stop importing goods until June 12. They are scheduled to resume export from June 13 if the Covid-19 situation improves," he added.
Mohammad Ali, assistant revenue officer at the Akhaura land customs station, said exports had fallen sharply due to the novel coronavirus. And the government is being deprived of revenue of around Tk2.5 lakh each day.