The eastern region of South Asia, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal and knows as the (BBIN) region, is making efforts to strengthen trade ties amongst themselves through the connectivity initiatives. With an equal balance of only land connected and land plus sea connected nations, this region is home to 1.56 billion people (India constituting about 87 percent) with combined GDP of USD $2.5 trillion dollars. Additionally, the region shares strong roots of integration in terms of cultural, religious and sociological aspects. The engagement of this region in connectivity initiatives will improve the current level of trade among BBIN countries and also deepen the roots of cultural and social relations.
Signing of the Motor Vehicles Framework Agreement is one of the landmark initiatives undertaken in the sub region to facilitate smooth and efficient movement of freight and passengers across borders. While Bhutan is yet to become a signatory to the agreement, Governments in the other countries of this sub-region are presently working out the protocols for its implementation.
The BBIN MVA framework consists of seventeen articles and 63 sub articles including four forms of permits for both cargo and passenger traffic with various regulations, directions, restrictions and limitations along with three annexures.
Effective implementation of the MVA is likely to result in increased movement of vehicles across designated routes across the countries. While on one hand it will promote greater trade and economic integration among the member countries, it is also likely that increased vehicular movement might jeopardize safety road users especially the vulnerable section of road users viz. pedestrians, cyclists and motor cycles. This necessitates careful stocktaking of the road infrastructure, especially those pertaining to the safety of the road users, along select BBIN corridors. In addition, it is imperative that vehicular regulations among the BBIN member countries be analyzed so as to facilitate development of uniform traffic and transportation policies.
In this regard, CUTS International with the support of The World Bank Group, New Delhi is working on an assignment titled “Data collection and analysis for safe transit of freight and passengers along BBIN trade corridors”. Overall objective of the assignment is to collect and analyse corridor specific data on various existing infrastructure pertaining to safety of road users, road accidents and related regulations. This include preparing an inventory of relevant corridor conditions and facilities, undertaking traffic surveys in a sample of two corridors, and assessing truck and bus safety and environmental standards and rules in the BBIN countries.
The study is being conducted for the following two BBIN Corridors:
a) Kolkata – Agartala via Dhaka; and
b) Kathmnadu – Chittagong via Fulbari/Banglabandha and Dhaka