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Wednesday, July 04, 2001

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Logistics | Next


CIWTC barges still remain detained at Bangladesh ports

Our Bureau

KOLKATA, July 3

SIX barges and three tugs used for towing the barges, all belonging to the public sector Central Inland Water Transport Corporation (CIWTC), have remained detained at the Bangladesh ports of Khulna and Mongla since the middle of April, thanks to internal problems in that country.

Bangladesh Customs officials, it is learnt, have virtually stopped working in these ports in support of their various demands.

Five of the barges carried wheat to Khulna while the sixth one flyash to Mongla. This was for the first time a CIWTC barge carried flyash to Bangladesh.

The Chairman and Managing Director of the CIWTC, Commdr (Retd.) S.C. Dua, during his recent visit to Dhaka, took up the matter with the concerned authorities in Bangladesh who promised to do the needful for an early release of the vessels. However, the v essels are yet to be released.

Meanwhile, the concerned authorities in Bangladesh have agreed to put on hold their decision to slap more than 50 per cent hike in freight on cargo moved by the river route to and from Assam. As per the India-Bangladesh Protocol on Trade and Transit, the Indian and Bangladeshi vessels are to share equally the total trade by the river routes not only between India and Bangladesh but also between Assam and the rest of India as the large part of the river route to Assam from the rest of India lies through Bangladesh.

However, the Bangladeshi vessels rarely participated in the trade to and from Assam on the ground of uneconomic rates. The decision to defer the freight hike proposal follows the appeal by Mr Dua not to go for such a hike at least for one year, particul arly when the volume of trade on the route is just showing the signs of picking up.

Only recently were some quantities of tea transported by the river route from Assam to Kolkata. In the opposite direction, soaps and detergents were sent.

It might be noted that Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation, a State-owned barge company, hardly offers its own vessels to carry cargo between India and Bangladesh. The private barge operators of Bangladesh generally participate in the trade. Th e picture is just the opposite on this side of the border. Traditionally, CIWTC vessels have always accounted for almost the entire trade. Only recently a few private Indian barge operators took part in the trade, though on a limited scale.

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