Responding to a question on the BBIN (Bhutan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal) motor-vehicle agreement, the foreign minister, Dr Tandin Dorji, during the government’s first Meet-the-PM session with the press on Friday, said that the government has plans to reconsider the agreement after intensive consultations with all the stakeholders involved.
The BBIN agreement will permit limited cross-border movement of vehicles in the territories of the four countries for transportation of cargo and passengers, including third country transport and personal vehicles.
“I had a delegation from the Bhutanese industries in south and they have requested the government to reconsider the agreement. There are more than 200 Bhutanese truckers going to Bangladesh and they are facing problems because we have not ratified the agreement, whereas the truckers from the signatory countries have easy access,” said the foreign minister.
Lyonpo (Dr) Tandin Dorji said since the issue is still under primitive discussion involving all the relevant stakeholders; it does not mean that government will positively ratify the agreement.
“Some of our Bhutanese truckers appealed that it’s affecting them and said that the truckers from other three countries have more benefits. We are trying to reassess all the positive and negative aspects of the agreement and decide thereafter. The Bhutanese truckers faced bitter experiences after Bhutan did not ratify the agreement, and at the same time, there are also concerns on the number of foreign vehicles plying Bhutanese roads, but for that we can also make sure that proper operating procedure and standard protocols for the cargo vehicular movement are followed,” said the foreign minister.
The BBIN agreement was largely debated ever since Bhutan signed the deal in June 2015. While the three other BBIN nations ratified the agreement, Bhutan had to withdraw after joint parliamentary committee found that all the members from the Opposition and the majority of the National Council members were in complete disagreement with the deal.
The then Opposition and the NC members were of view that the implementation of the deal would lead to an influx of vehicles from other countries impacting our own transporters and the negative implication such agreement might have on the environment.
Supplementing the foreign minister, Lyonchhen (Dr) Lotay Tshering said that since everyone learn from experience, he said that the Bhutanese truckers now find it difficult to ply on the Bangladesh-India border. “Recently there has been hue and cry among the truckers seeking government intervention, so BBIN is not only about motor vehicle agreement- there are lot of other components to it, and we will reassess the pros and cons on the matter and decide accordingly,” said the Prime Minister.