Our Correspondent, Dhaka, 14 January: The Bangladesh Road Transport and Highways Division (RTHD) has said direct bus service between Dhaka and Siliguri is very likely to begin this year, although the agreement on which the service would start is yet to be finalized.
a senior official of the division said they want to finalize a bilateral agreement with India to start the service this year.
Although the service will be operated between Dhaka and Siliguri, but convenient transports will also be available at Siliguri for Bangladeshi nationals to travel to Gangtok and Darjeeling, two popular tourist places in India, via the route.
“But the final decision over the agreement will be taken by the top authorities of the governments as it is a multi-borders connectivity that connects Nepal and Bhutan in future so far,” he added.
On Wednesday, a virtual meeting was held between India and Bangladesh for regulating motor vehicles and passenger traffic in operating bus service between Dhaka and Siliguri.
Concerned officials from RTHD, Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) and Roads and Highways Department (RHD) attended the meeting.
Several officials, who attended the meeting, told Dhaka Tribune that the meeting focused on the inauguration of the passenger bus service on the Dhaka-Siliguri-Dhaka route, however, no concrete decisions have been made.
“But, bus service will start soon either following bilateral agreement or under the Bangladesh-India-Nepal (BIN) Motor-Vehicle Agreement (MVA), said RHD Chief Transport Economist Marufa Ismat.
“All the departments have placed their opinions and now the higher authority will take a decision,” she added.
However, Nazrul Islam, secretary of the Road Transport and Highways Division was not available on phone for comments.
Earlier, Bangladesh and India have planned to inaugurate direct bus service between Dhaka and Sikkim and Dhaka and Darjeeling.
However, the initiatives were cancelled after the feasibility study by the BRTC as the roads are too narrow for buses from Siliguri to Sikkim and Darjeeling. There are also risky bends for bus on both the routes after Siliguri.
Siliguri is the entry point for getting to both Sikkim and Darjeeling as the road forms a “Y” right passed it and starts to get ever so narrow.
Thus, officials suggested that people from Bangladesh desiring to travel to Gangtok from Dhaka, a popular tourist city in India’s northeastern state of Sikkim, will have to take a smaller bus from Siliguri to Gangtok as roads are mostly narrow in Sikkim.
Darjeeling is about 7,000 feet above sea level.
Bangladesh and India had earlier decided to launch direct bus services on the Dhaka-Sikkim and Dhaka-Darjeeling routes.
The BRTC ran a trial bus service from Dhaka on December 12, 2019, to Darjeeling and the Sikkim capital of Gangtok.
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.