The first sea trial of ships has been launched between Maia Port in India and Sultanganj Port in Bangladesh on the Indo Bangladesh Protocol (IBP) route No. 5′ 6. This is part of an effort to promote trade and connectivity between India and Bangladesh, and is expected to shift 2.6 MTPA of cargo to Bangladesh from road to waterways. The vessels were flagged off from Maia Inland Customs Port in West Bengal and the new route is expected to reduce the distance by around 930 kilometers compared to the existing waterway route.
The river distance between Maia port in India and Sultanganj port in Bangladesh is 16 kilometers, with 4.5 kilometers in India and 11.5 kilometers in Bangladesh. The initiative is in line with the Act East Policy of the Government of India and is a move to increase connectivity between the two countries, with the ultimate goal of boosting trade relations. The conclusion event was attended by various dignitaries including the Transport and State Transport Ministers of the Government of West Bengal as well as a Member of Parliament and other officials from both India and Bangladesh.
The development of direct shipping links between India and Bangladesh is a result of the state visit of HE Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, to India in 2022. Both countries agreed to start river services under the Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade (PIWTT) on specific routes, including the newly launched route No. 5′ 6.