The decline in border trade also bodes ill for tourism

Instability is increasing in Myanmar on the border with Bangladesh. There are daily clashes between the military and armed rebel groups, including the Arakan army. In the meantime, mortar shells from Myanmar have arrived on the territory of Bangladesh several times and there have been casualties. The sound of gunfire causes panic in Teknaf in Cox’s Bazar and Ghumdhum and Tumbru in Bandarban. This has had a direct impact on the country’s tourism industry and border trade. The government has halted the navigation of tourist ships from Teknaf to Saint Martin even during the peak season due to safety concerns. Imports and exports via the land port of Teknaf have been reduced to almost half. If the situation is not normal, traders fear that this trade may be halted soon.

The stakeholders said that the tourist season in the country, especially in Sint Maarten, starts from October 1 and lasts until March. Seven ships and more than 30 trawlers from Teknaf send 5-10 thousand tourists to and from Sint Maarten every day. In addition, two luxury ships sail from Cox’s Bazar and Chittagong. All of these have been declared closed indefinitely by the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism.

Masum Billah, executive magistrate in charge of the Tourism Division of Cox’s Bazar District Administration, told Samakal that due to the navigable crisis in the Naf River, instructions have been issued to stop Teknaf-Saint Martin shipping traffic. We’ve implemented it.

Although the government talks about the maritime crisis, the shipowners claim that there is tension on the border between Bangladesh and Myanmar. The situation could be worse. Transport of tourists from Teknaf to Saint Martin has been suspended to protect tourists from possible mortar shells from Myanmar. Because Myanmar grenades or mortar shells can fall on tourist ships. The Naf River acts as a border between the two countries. The 7 km smooth waterway of this river is very dangerous. It has to be crossed from Teknaf to Saint Martin. They fear that tourism will collapse as a result.
Hossain Islam Bahadur, general secretary of the Sea Cruise Operator Owners Association of Bangladesh (SQUAB), told Samakal: “Due to the internal conflict in Myanmar, we have halted shipping in accordance with the administration’s instructions.” Alternatively, ships sail from Cox’s Bazar, Chittagong and Dhaka.
Additional District Magistrate of Cox’s Bazar Abu Sufian and Teknaf Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Erfanul Haque said ships sailing through the Naf River have been halted due to the naval crisis and conflict on the border with Myanmar.

Meanwhile, the unrest in Myanmar has affected import and export trade in the land port of Teknaf. Maungdu, Akyab and Yangon of the neighboring country are connected to this port. Both imports and exports through the land port of Teknaf have decreased over the past month and a half.
In July of this year, the amount of imported goods amounted to 20 thousand 500 tons, in August it fell to 17 thousand 318 tons. And on September 26, this amount amounted to 13 thousand 580 tons. Exports fell to 320 tons in September. But in July the amount was 400 tons.
Teknaf Land Port Authority United Land Port manager Jasim Uddin Chowdhury said no cargo from Maungdu in Myanmar reached the trawler’s land port in the past week due to the conflict. The arrival of goods from Akyab in Myanmar has decreased. About 40 percent of the import and export of goods between the two countries has been halted.
He said that previously seven to eight ships came to the port from Myanmar, in the past month and a half no more than three to four ships come to the port.

The environment is unstable in Maungdu, Myanmar. As a result, the customs and immigration activities of the port of Maungdu have been limited and trade has declined.
According to port sources, fish, toys, plastic, ready-made clothes, chips, aluminum materials, medicines, cosmetics, hair and food are exported from Bangladesh through the land port of Teknaf. On the other hand, wood, rice, pulses, betel nuts, ginger, turmeric, pepper, onion, dried beans, chickpeas, pickles, etc. are imported from Myanmar.
On Tuesday, food was seen being loaded onto a ship for export from Bangladesh to Akiaba. Apart from this, the entire port of Teknaf is silent. Most laborers and port officials spend their free time.

Aminur Rahman, chairman of Teknaf Landport C&F Association, told Samakal that the situation in Mangdu has stalled. No goods can be imported by trawler from there. Due to the unstable situation, especially in Maungdu, timber imports have completely stopped. A few trawlers from the port city of Akiab come via the waters of St. Martin through the Bay of Bengal to the land port of Teknaf. However, if the situation is not normal, the import and export of goods at the port could be halted, he said.

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