Nepal, India and Bangladesh agree to open transport routes in six months
Nepal, India and Bangladesh have agreed to open at least one or two transport lanes for passenger vehicles under the banner of BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal), a sub-regional initiative, in the next six months, a senior Nepalese government official said.
A three-country meeting on the BBIN motor vehicle deal on March 7-8 in New Delhi, in which Bhutan participated as an observer, decided to go ahead with the plan. opening of the road(s) as a pilot operation.
The meeting was held to discuss passenger and cargo protocols which are critical to the implementation of the BBIN Motor Vehicle Agreement (MVA) for the regulation of passenger, personal and cargo vehicle traffic between the four signed countries. in June 2015.
It was the group’s first meeting since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic two years ago. The last meeting took place in February 2020 in New Delhi.
“We have reached an agreement to operate Kakarvitta-Kolkata-Dhaka or Biratnagar-Kolkata routes or both over the next six months,” said Keshav Kumar Sharma, joint secretary at the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport. . New Delhi.
An AfDB study has proposed 10 regional road networks as South Asian corridors, seven of which have been identified in the BBIN region.
But, the transport corridor will only come into operation after the countries concerned have given the official green light after carrying out detailed studies on the matter.
“There will be two sub-committees in each country to study land transport and customs issues and make their recommendations, and a joint committee to finalize the operation modalities,” said Sharma, who led the Nepalese delegation. at the last meeting.
Sharma said they agreed to form sub-committees within a month and are expected to submit their reports by June. The subcommittees are supposed to study technical aspects such as insurance, fees to increase, insurance policy and what to do in the event of an accident, according to Sharma.
The Bhutanese parliament decided not to approve the plan but in 2017 gave its consent to the entry into force of the agreement between the three member states (Bangladesh, India and Nepal) while refusing to commit to any obligation . Bhutan had shown its current infrastructure and environmental concerns for not allowing vehicles from other countries.
Bhutan’s consent for the three countries to move forward with the implementation of the agreement paved the way for the three countries to engage in further negotiations. During the last meeting, further progress was made in implementing the agreement, according to officials.
According to a statement released by the Indian External Affairs Ministry on Tuesday, an enabling MoU is to be signed by India, Bangladesh and Nepal for the implementation of the MVA BBIN by the three countries, pending the ratification of the MVA by Bhutan. was finalized at the last meeting.
Some of the key elements of the motor vehicle agreement are that member states would be allowed to operate their vehicles in each other’s territories for the transport of goods and passengers.
The sub-committees will work on the number of documents that must be mutually recognized by the respective countries according to Article 1V of the MVA.
These documents include vehicle registration certificate, certificate of fitness, insurance policy, licence, pollution certificate, driver’s license and crew passport, proof of identity, visa, passenger list in case of passenger vehicles and packing lists, and invoice among other things. Mutual recognition of these documents will be necessary to ensure smooth cross-border transport.
When four countries signed the BBIN MVA in June 2015, they agreed to a six-month work plan from July to December 2015 for the implementation of the BBIN MVA. But seven years later, these countries are still discussing ways to implement MVA.
According to the World Bank, early implementation of BBIN MVA can shorten transport routes, save travel time and reduce costs, in addition to reducing carbon footprint. His analysis reveals that under the MVA, a truck traveling from Agartala in northeast India to the port of Kolkata will take 65% less time and the cost will be 68% cheaper.
According to a World Bank report, although trade between BBIN countries increased sixfold between 2005 and 2019, the untapped potential remains enormous, estimated at 93% for Bangladesh, 50% for India and 76% for Nepal.