Benapole Port, the country’s biggest land port, is on the path to full-fledged automation with the installation of all necessary electronic devices going on full-swing.
With an estimated cost of Tk 52 crore, the port area will be equipped with automation machines and close-circuit television (CCTV) cameras and a boundary wall all along the port area, according to port authorities.
“The port has plans to install 1400 CCTV cameras there to ensure foolproof security in the port area,” said Belal Hossain Chowdhury, commissioner of Benapole Customs House.
Trade between Bangladesh and India may be expected to multiply as a result, as the checking and discharging of the goods will be easier and faster once the port area is digitalised, he added.
“Two C&F agents will be provided with high-level training from the beginning of 2019, so that they can handle the automated movement of goods easily and effectively,” said Prodush Kanti Das, director of Benapole port.
He also expressed high hopes saying that traders of both the countries will be able to keep an eye on their goods passing through the border without being physically present at the port, thanks to the automation process allowing for remote tracking.
Though the customs houses were brought under the CCTV monitoring earlier this year, the plan is for the entire port area to be covered by CCTV, in order to prevent smuggling and even aid the detection of unwanted intruders along the border within the shortest possible time.
“We are heaving a sigh of relief at learning of the automation project, as this will boost trade volumes by ensuring smooth and hassle-free goods transportation along the border,” said vice-president of the port’s Clearing & Forwarding (C&F) agents Aminul Haque.
Matiar Rahman, Chairman of India-Bangladesh Export-Import Sub-Committee, said they had long been demanding foolproof security for their goods through the automation of the port area “in order to augment the trade baskets for both countries.”
“There still remain some other drawbacks to be addressed to harness the potential of the port and the port authority should deal with those on a priority basis,” he added.
It takes only three hours for a truck to reach Benapole after loading goods from Kolkata, which is only at a distance of 84 kilometres, making it a major transportation hub for the business communities of both Bengals in particular.