KoPT strengthens shipping service to Bangladesh amid Petrapole stalemate

The Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT), rechristened as the Shyama Prasad Mookerjee Port Trust, on Friday introduced a new shipping service through the inland waterways route between the West Bengal capital and the seaside town of Chittagong in Bangladesh amid frequent disruption of cross-border trade via the Petrapole-Benapole land ports.

Export of Indian goods to Bangladesh through the Petrapole border in West Bengal was disrupted on July 1 due to agitation by a section of exporters in the neighbouring country.

They were unhappy over India not allowing import of goods from Bangladesh through Petrapole due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“The ”M V Asiatic Moon” is expected to carry 300 containers of Indian exports to Bangladesh in its maiden voyage. This is the biggest vessel by size to ply between Kolkata and Chittagong till date. It can carry up to 600 containers in a single voyage to Chittagong,” Kolkata Port deputy chairman S Balaji Arunkumar said.

Earlier, barges with carrying capacity of 80-100 containers were operational on this route, he said.

The deadlock at the Petrapole-Benapole border continued on Friday with Bangladeshi traders and workers agitating for their demand.

“The port and shipping line is also in consultation with the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) to make sure all exporters are aware of the new service to ease the pressure brought about by the issues faced at the overland routes through Petrapole,” KoPT Chairman Vinit Kumar said.

Another similar cargo service to Chittagong will commence from the Shyama Prasad Mookerjee Port in the second week of July, he said.

Meanwhile, the KoPT has commissioned an outer mooring terminal at the Haldia Dock Complex at a cost of Rs 3.8 crore, officials said.