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Published:
2020-01-13 13:32:19 BdST

BD to launch direct road links with Siliguri, Darjeeling


FT ONLINE

Bangladesh has decided to launch direct road connectivity with India's popular tourist destinations Siliguri and Darjeeling in West Bengal from Thursday, as a part of boosting the Indo-Pacific vision.

The decision came, to further enhance the regional network, after a meeting held by the Thematic Group on Regional Connectivity at the Road Transport and Highways Division of the Bangladesh government.

Earlier, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA) has been delayed due to Bhutan's temporary withdrawal from the BBIN-MVA.

According to the Economic Times report, a Bangladesh government official said Dhaka has plans to start the Dhaka-Siliguri-Gangtok (Sikkim)-Dhaka and Dhaka-Siliguri-Darjeeling-Dhaka trial bus routes.

Although road connectivity between Bangladesh and India already exists, it is not direct — passengers have to change buses at the border. But under the new initiative, passengers will not have to change buses, the official said.

The BBIN countries signed the Motor Vehicle Agreement for free movement of goods and passengers among the four countries on June 15, 2015.

Under the agreement, the contracting parties will allow trucks and trailers with containers, and passenger vehicles — hired or personal — to ply in the territory of other contracting parties.

During the Non-Aligned Movement Summit last year in the Azerbaijan city of Baku, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina spoke with her Nepali counterpart KP Sharma Oli where they decided to carry on with an open road network project without Bhutan.

Meanwhile, during her recent visit to New Delhi, Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi discussed working towards a bilateral India-Bangladesh Motor Vehicles Agreement.

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