The arrival of a cargo ship in Bangladesh from Bhutan using Indian waterway is a significant development towards improving regional connectivity among the South Asian countries. Improving communication network is the key to increasing people to people connectivity among the friendly countries of this region. If the people from across the border are directly connected, there will be little room for misconceptions and mistrust, and thus friendship and peace can be established on much firmer footing. Also it will open new avenues for trade and commerce.
In this era of global inter-connectivity, no country can prosper in isolation. The shared vision of moving forward together got the momentum during the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015. At that time it was agreed upon in principle that the potentials that exist in the South Asian regions will have to be harnessed together. Therefore, the growing physical connectivity by road, water and air should also pave the way for greater cooperation regarding security, education, environment, sustainable development and poverty reduction. The rationale for this lies in the fact that all South Asian countries are facing these common developmental challenges.We thank India for allowing Bangladesh and Bhutan to use its waterways. In the first cargo ship Bhutan transported about 50 trucks worth of crushed stone aggregates to Bangladesh through a barge of India’s Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), saving about 30 per cent transportation cost and eight-ten days time. Bangladesh will send jute and rice to Bhutan in return journey in the same vessel.
A number of other initiatives to boost regional connectivity are also afoot. BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal) Motor Vehicle Agreement for regional connectivity is one of them, which will usher in greater socio-economic development in the region.
The good thing is that the people in a majority of the countries in South Asia are in favour of maintaining friendly relations with their neighbouring countries. Taking this as the foundation, we hope the government of the countries in this region will look for new avenues to strengthen mutual ties and cooperation.