The export and import of goods through the Burimari land port is being seriously affected in the absence of minimum infrastructural facilities.
The land port facilitates Bangladesh's trade with India, Nepal and Bhutan.
Some items including readymade garments (RMG), melamine and agro- products are exported to India while fruits, stones, industrial raw materials and spices are imported from these three close door neighbours through this land port.
"We are continuing our business without any banking facility at the port area," General Secretary of the Clearing and Forwarding (C&F) Agent Association of Burimari Golum Rabbani told the FE Thursday last at his office.
At least 35 C&F agents out of 108 are actively engaged at the port.
He also said the local businessmen are doing their banking transactions at Patgram upazila headquarters, 12 kilometres from the land port.
"Our cost of doing businesses has been increasing due to the lack of necessary facilities such as telephone, warehouses and railway wagons at the port area," he added.
The association has already urged the government to ensure modern communications systems by setting up a separate telephone exchange to facilitate the business activities of the port.
There exists an outdated system of communications at the port through operate-trunk-dealing (OTD). The system, however, is failing to fulfill the demand of the business community.
The OTD system remained out of order for over the last one-and-a-half years. The businessmen and local officials are now using mobile phones, port users said.
They said nearly 150 tourists on an average cross the port everyday. Yet there is no residential facility for foreign guests.
Meanwhile, the Bangladesh Land Port Authority has started developing 11 land ports, including Burimari, to handover those to the private operators under the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) arrangement.
Sources, however, said Teknaf in Cox's Bazar, Tamabil in Sylhet, Akhaura in Brahmanbaria and Burimari in Lalmonirhat are scheduled to be handed over to the private operators under the second phase within this year.
Meanwhile, the ministry of shipping has initiated a process to transfer the operational responsibilities of eight land ports along Indo-Bangladesh-Myanmar borders to private parties with a view to maximising revenues, official sources said.
The ministry held a meeting Monday to discuss ways to develop those land ports by constructing warehouses, boundary walls and ensuring necessary infrastructures.
The government has already handed over operations of Banglabandha, Hili, Sonamasjid and Bibibazar land ports to private operators. However, the responsibility of giving customs clearance and collection of value added tax (VAT) and other duties has remained with the National Board of Revenue.
The government, earlier, on the trial basis operated duty station at Teknaf and later transformed it into a land port. The revenue jumped to Tk 600 million a year, from a paltry Tk 50 million when it was turned into a port, said a top official of Bangladesh Land Port Authority (BLPA).
The construction of warehouses and other infrastructures in those eight ports would cost the government an estimated amount of Tk. 1.0 billion. But the same is expected to generate a huge amount of revenue for the government, the official said.
The BLPA official expressed the hope that revenue from Hili land port would simply be doubled from current level of Tk 500 million a year when the private operator started operating it.