The export-import activity between Bangladesh and India through the Benapole-Petrapole trading point remained suspended as the talks between the truckers, labour unions and authorities on the Indian side at Petrapole ended inconclusive on Monday. The local transport association, drivers Union, labour Unions at the ICP have gone on an indefinite period since Monday alleging harassment at the border post in checking drivers licence, vehicle and other documents.

A meeting was held on Monday between the representatives of the transport association, drivers union, labour unions and others with the BSF Commandant and other authorities at the Petrapole ICP. The unions demanded 6 months time for the renewal of vehicle documents and driving licences which expired in the last two years during the Corona pandemic. They also demanded that the rules should be uniformly applied across the entire India-Bangladesh border so that truckers passing through the Petrapole-Benapole border are not at a disadvantage.

The Petropole port staff association said that new rules like a custom identity card are being enforced on entry to the port area without informing the traders. They are demanding that BSF stop the checking of Driving Licences, cargo trucks and issuance of new I Card/passes for entry-exit to be stopped immediately and the Old system to continue at ICP.

The port authorities agreed to resolve the issue within the ambit of the legal framework. They agreed to provide a month’s time for the renewal of documents of the truckers. They also said that the SOP will be shared across all the LCS/ICPs  on the India-Bangladesh border. However, the talks remained inconclusive.

Earlier, on January 18, 82 fake driving licences were seized from truck drivers at the Petrapole Integrated Checkpost after the BSF launched an intensive search at the Petrapole ICP. BSF spokesperson said that it has received information that a few drivers of heavy vehicles are involved in transborder crime by carrying out smuggling of gold, silver, phensedyl and other drugs, fake currency and such items.

However, the loading unloading on the Bangladesh side of the ICP at Benapole is continuing at a normal pace.

Petrapole is the largest land port in South Asia. Nearly 30 percent of land-based trade between India and Bangladesh takes place through ICP Petrapole. In 2020-21, trade worth Rs. 15,771 crore took place through this land port with more than 1.06 lakh cargo movements.