Kathmandu: The Nepal government has decided to sign the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicles Agreement in Bhutanese capital Thimphu on Monday for the regulation of passenger, personal and cargo vehicular traffic amongst four SAARC countries.
Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport Management Bimalendra Nidhi will sign the agreement on behalf of the Nepal government.
"With approval from the cabinet, I am travelling to Thimphu to sign the motor vehicles agreement. The agreement is nothing other than the Saarc Motor Vehicles Agreement," Nidhi told IANS.
This new agreement is expected to help revive the stalled South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation motor vehicles agreement, the meeting for which could not take place after the devastating earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25.
"This new agreement is neither alternative nor parallel to the Saarc motor vehicle agreement. The Saarc itself has mandated to the member states to initiate bilateral, trilateral or sub-regional cooperation on various mutually beneficial areas," said Nidhi, who is travelling along with his secretary, Tulshi Prasad Situala, to Bhutan on Saturday.
The agreement will be signed on Monday preceded by a secretary-level meeting on Sunday that will make all necessary preparations for the agreement.
"We are still negotiating for Saarc motor vehicles agreement as early as possible but due to the April 25 earthquake, we could not convene the meeting," said Nidhi.
The proposed Saarc motor vehicles agreement was approved during the Saarc Summit in Kathmandu in November 2014.
But it could not be signed due to reservations of Pakistan. The Saarc Declaration in the Kathmandu summit also encouraged member states to initiate regional and sub-regional measures to enhance connectivity. Accordingly, it was considered appropriate that a sub-regional motor vehicle agreement among Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) may be pursued.
A meeting of secretaries of transport of the BBIN countries was organized by Nepal`s ministry of road transport and highways in February 2015 to discuss and finalise the text of the draft BBIN Motor Vehicles Agreement.
The signing of BBIN agreement would promote safe, economical, efficient and environmentally sound road transport in the region and would further help each country in creating an institutional mechanism for regional integration.
BBIN countries would be benefited by mutual cross-border movement of passenger and goods for overall economic development of the region. Each member state of the BBIN sub-regional grouping would bear its own costs arising from implementation of this agreement which will go a long way in cementing regional cooperation and enhancing trade among member states.