Although the government has decided to keep Benapole land port open round the clock to expedite trade activities with India, importers and exporters are yet to enjoy the facility for lack of infrastructural support and irregularities allegedly by customs officials.
According to sources at Benapole C&F Agent Association, customs officials charge an extra fee of Tk 500 from each trader in the name of overtime duty, Tk 1,257.11 as holiday charge and Tk 718.37 as nightshift charge alongside the regular sum for a single import process.
As a result, a trader has to count Tk 3,000 instead of the regular port charge of Tk 500 for the import of a product after5 pm, the sources said.
Although there is no such problem at PetrapoleportofIndia, traders have to face such irregularities at Benapole port, hampering the government's move to maximise revenue, said Mafizur Rahman Sajan, president of Benapole C&F Agent Association.
The association has already informed the port authorities over the irregularities and sent letters to the ministries and departments concerned seeking a remedy to the problem, Sajan added.
Appreciating the government's initiative to keep the port open for 24 hours, importer Mizanur Rahman Khan said it is not acceptable to take extra charges for the import of goods during holidays.
Matiar Rahman, chairman of India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce Land Port Sub-committee, said the government initiative will go in vain if the port authorities do not stop charging extra fees in the name of nightshift, holiday and overtime duty.
Contacted, deputy director of (Admin) of Benapole land port M Rezaul Islam said the port authorities take charges according to the stipulated tariff scale set by the government.
"The government has asked us to keep the port open during holidays. But we've not received any direction to take extra charges for overtime, holiday and nightshift duty.If the traders want, they can send an application to the government for getting waiver on these charges. If the government provides the waiver, we won't demand these charges," Rezaul added.
Besides, importers have been facing problems for lack of infrastructural development and adequate space at the port following the implementation of the new initiative to keep the port open for 24 hours.
Sources at theport saidto get the maximum benefits from the government's decision, the port needs to have a space to allow the entry of 800-1000 goods-laden trucks regularly, but it has no such facility.
Meanwhile, some important equipment like cranes and forklifts have gone out of order, worsening the situation.