Narinjara news

 

28 February, 2002


WHY IS  THE MYANMAR  BANGLADESH  BORDER TRADE INEFFECTUAL

Reported by Shwe Lin Yun

With a view to stop the illegal cross-border smuggling the then Bangladesh Nationalist Party in 1995 opened the legal border trade between Myanmar and Bangladesh, opening up a gate to vast legal trade opportunity.

        So far the trade has been carried out through the Naaf river so that the bulk of the trade between the two countries has been done as usual, through smuggling.  As a result the border trade has not done well as expected during the last seven years.
 
        On the contrary, if two land-ports, one at Naikkhongchhari of Bandarban district and another at Kach-chapia of Ramu under Cox'sbazaar district of Bangladesh are established, the trade between the two countries will flourish very much, it is expected by many members of the business community in the southern parts of Bangladesh.

        While discussing the matter with some of the businessmen, it was learnt that, goods from Myanmar usually come to Bangladesh in two ways:   a large chunk of the imported goods are brought in cargo boats and trawlers directly from Akyab (Sittwe) of Rakhine State to the transit ghat at Teknaf on the western bank of the Naaf river in Bangladesh, and the bigger chunk of the goods make way clandestinely through smugglers, evading taxes. 

Trade is also done by bringing goods to Maungdaw on the eastern bank of the Naaf river in Rakhine State and then bringing them in boats across the common river.  This way the price of the goods increase and the time is also wasted.  When the goods are carried by road transports to all over Bangladesh, the price of the goods goes on increasing over the distance.  Besides installing land ports in the two towns of Maungdaw and Teknaf is impossible due to the Naaf river serving as  the common river. 

On the contrary,  the experienced traders and merchants are of the opinion that, if one land port on each side of the border pillar 45 is installed, the ancient Arakan road will once again come to life and the border trade will gain momentum.
 
Talking to some of the educationists and local leaders of Naikkhongchari and Ramu, it was learnt that the distance between the border pillar 45 and Dulahazara, the point where Chittagong Cox'sbazaar road has met, is merely 38 kilometres.  If the road is renovated, two bridges (a total of 250 m long) are constructed on the Eidgaon stream and the Baak-khali river and a few culverts are built, the old Arakan road will come to life once again.

On the other hand, within Rakhine State, the road from border pillar 45  to Bawlibazar and Shahbazarwhich needs renovating extends  only to 30 km.   From there the road goes to Buthidaung, Rathedaung, Maungdaw and Sittwe.  The transportation will take less time and money.

On the Bangladesh side, the transportation cost for 120 km from Teknaf to Dulahazara will be eliminated.  The land ports will also ensure proper tax collection and minimize smuggling.  #