Country's largest land port, in Jashore's Benapole is now under threat. Free movement of unauthorised outsiders in the port has posed a threat for the port’s security system.
At present, one outsider called ‘Tendul' has been illegally recruited in each of the 42 sheds at the port. They are directly involved in revenue evasion and theft of goods from the sheds complained the port user organizations.
20 lakh metric tons of goods are imported from India through Benapole port every year, from which the government collects a revenue of around Tk 6,000 crore.
Moreover, the port authorities also receive separate revenues. But the imported products are not safe inside the port. Goods are constantly being stolen from the port.
According to Benapole Custom House sources, in 2019-20 fiscal year almost 18.7 lakh metric tons of various goods were imported through Benapole port, whereas in 2018-19, it was almost 18.37 lakh metric tons.
In the first five months of the current fiscal year 2020-21, Tk 1,509 crore 69 lakh of revenue has been collected out of total revenue of Tk 2,506 crore 6 lakh. So, the amount of deficit is about Tk 999.9 crore.
Even though the security personnel are on duty at every entrance of the port, outsiders are entering freely. Despite repeated complains about outsiders entering the port and the port being a bonded KPI area, the port authorities have not taken any actions yet.
The port users' organizations joining a high-level advisory committee meeting held at Benapole Customs House on December 17, complained about the free movement of the outsiders.
However, the port authorities have not been able to remove these unauthorized people from the shed till date. As a result, there is intense resentment among importers, who are thinking of launching a major strike at any time.
Joint General Secretary of Benapole Importers and Exporters Association Abdul Latif alleged, outsiders were stealing goods from the port under the umbrella of Port Deputy Director (Traffic) Mamun Tarafdar.
He added, “Five of my consignments had been stolen from the port's shed, including a motor from a machine imported by Crown Cement Company last month. The value of which was about Tk 12 lakh. Although I submitted written complaints to the port authorities, they did not provide any compensation”.
President of Benapole C&F Agents Association Mofizur Rahman Sajan said it was not right for outsiders to enter the sheds inside the port.
“We have complained about the matter to the port authorities at different times but due to non-cooperation of the Deputy Director Mamun Talukder, the movement of outsiders could not be stopped”, he added.
Director of the India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry Matiar Rahman said, “The maximum trade of goods between India-Bangladesh is done through this port. Free movement of unauthorized people in the port is not acceptable and we are concerned about the security of the port”.
Benapole Port Director Abdul Jalil said the movement of outsiders at the port would be controlled as soon as possible. No outsiders can be placed inside the port shed under any circumstances. He alleged, no allegation of theft of goods was received, if any complaint is received action will be taken.