In a reciprocal gesture of friendship, India is all set to provide transit facility to Bangladesh exclusively for exports and overland trade with Nepal via Rohanpur-Singhabad rail route. Earlier Bangladesh laid the groundwork for stronger connectivity in the region by providing transit to India to connect with its north-eastern region through Bangladesh. Now that India reciprocates, sub-regional connectivity and cooperation will further strengthen. No doubt, it will open up a new horizon of opportunities for bilateral trade and people-to-people connectivity in the region.
Reportedly, under the new arrangement, Rohanpur railway station in Chapainawabganj district will be added as another entry and exit point apart from the exiting six such transit stations. Nepal will use the Singhabad railway station of Malda district in the Indian state of West Bengal as its connecting point with Bangladesh. The Bangladesh government incorporated the new rail route in the Bangladesh-Nepal’s existing transit agreement aiming to give a much-needed boost to bilateral trade by reducing distance.An agreement was signed between Bangladesh and Nepal in 1976 under which export commodity from Bangladesh to Nepal and import from other countries to Nepal are carried via Indian Territory as “traffic-in-transit”. India has been providing the transit facility to Bangladesh exclusively for their exports and overland trade with Nepal.
Sub-regional cooperation in the areas of connectivity for mutual benefits is a great opportunity for South Asian countries. In a time when the SAARC cannot function smoothly due to geo-political reason, enhancing bilateral ties through sub-regional cooperation among friendly neighbouring countries is apparently the only option for greater connectivity in this region.
The people in a majority of the countries in South Asia are in favour of maintaining friendly relation with their neighbouring countries. Taking this as the foundation, the government of the countries in this region should continue looking for new avenue of friendship and cooperation.