Shillong: The trial run of the Guwahati-Shillong-Dhaka passenger bus service was flagged off Wednesday from Assam`s main ciy of Guwahati. The trial run is expected to conclude in Bangladesh`s capital city Dhaka Friday.
A joint technical team, comprising representatives from India and Bangladesh, are part of the trial run, which will assess route conditions and various technical parameters.
The team will submit a report to the respective governments on the feasibility of introducing regular buses along the route.
Assam PWD Minister Ajanta Neog flagged off the trial run in Guwahati.
The proposed bus service, which covers approximately 500 km, will traverse from Guwahati via Shillong and then proceed to the southern slopes of Meghalaya`s Dawki international trading before entering Tamabil (Bangladesh)-Sylhet-Dhaka route.
"The trial run of Guwahati-Dhaka bus service via Shillong aims to study and finalise the routes and start the new bus services," W. Blah, superintending engineer of the union road transport and highways ministry, told IANS.
"Our only concern is the non-starter for the construction of the new Dawki bridge due to non-availability of qualified contractor to construct the new bridge. However, we are hopeful that the construction would start soon," said Blah, who is leading the Indian delegation.
Ironically, the foundation stone to construct the 165 metre long bridge of the new Dawki bridge over Umngot river was laid Nov 13, 2009 by then union minister of state for road transport and highways Mahadev S. Khandela. The bridge was slated for completion way back in 2011.
Once completed, the two-lane bridge is expected to replace the single-lane 136-metre suspension bridge built by the British as the overland link between the provinces of East Bengal (now Bangladesh) and Assam.
Moreover, the seven-member Bangladesh delegation also stressed on the need to further improve the road infrastructure to ensure the smooth movement of the passenger bus service from Guwahati-Dhaka via Shillong.
"I personally feel that there is more room for improvement on the r oad infrastructure on the Indian side in some stretches on Meghalaya side. I am sure they are going to further improve it," Sheikh Abdul Ahad, joint secretary in Bangladesh`s ministry of home affairs, told IANS.
However, Ahad said the passenger bus service will be a "win-win situation" for the people of Bangladesh and India.
"This service will definitely boost the tourism industry on both sides, especially in your region (India`s northeastern states) and further improve relations between India and Bangladesh in many ways," he said.
India and Bangladesh presently have two regular bus services, one between Kolkata and Dhaka and the other between Agartala and Dhaka.
The decision to undertake the trial run of Guwahati-Dhaka via Shillong regular passenger bus service this month was taken at the meeting of the Joint Commission between India and Bangladesh held Sep 20.