A cargo ship from Bhutan, which travelled through India, reached the nearby river port city of Narayanganj on Thursday, opening a new era of trade between Bangladesh, India and Bhutan.The stone-laden ship — MV AAI of the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) — was digitally flagged off on July 12 by Indian State Minister for Shipping Mansukh Mandaviya.
The ship then sailed from Dhubri in Assam and travelled to Narayanganj in Bangladesh. This is the first time an Indian waterway have been used as a channel for ship movement between Bangladesh and Bhutan.
Indian High Commissioner in Bangladesh Riva Ganguly Das, Bhutanese ambassador Sonam T Rabgye and Bashundhara Group vice-chairman Safwan Sobhan received the cargo ship at Meghna Ghat in Narayanganj.
Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) Chairman Commodore M Mahbub-ul Islam, Bashundhara Group director Yeasha Sobhan, Shipping Ministry Joint Secretary Muhibul Islam and Shipping Corporation Additional Secretary Atiqur Rahman were also present on the occasion.
Speaking on the occasion, Indian high commissioner Riva Ganguly said shipment from Bhutan to Bangladesh using Indian waterway has opened a new milestone in the trade between these three countries.
“This is a historic moment. We can utilise the potential India-Bhutan-Bangladesh trade using this route,” said the Indian High Commissioner.Ambassador Sonam T Rabgye said Bhutan’s trade ties with Bangladesh and India will be strengthened further with this kind of initiatives.
“Bhutan, Bangladesh and India will equally be benefitted and bilateral will get a new shape,” said the Bhutanese ambassador, adding that waterway trade is cost-effective and environment-friendly as well.
Referring to the trade potential between Bangladesh-India-Bhutan, the BIWTA chairman said the arrival of the cargo ship from Bhutan has opened up a new era in maritime trade among the three nations after remaining stalled for long.
“Bashundhara Group has been a good partner in the dredging and other activities to make this sea route ready for the movement of vessels. BIWTA stands ready to solve any problem in maritime routes and it will be possible if the work is done together with partners like Bashundhara Group,” said the BIWTA Chairman.
The stone aggregates were transported by trucks from Phuentsholing in Bhutan, which is 160 km from IWAI’s Dhubri jetty in Assam.
Bhutan has been exporting significant quantity of stone aggregates to Bangladesh through land route. The ship carried 1000MT of stones. Over 50 trucks would be required to transport the same cargo by road.