A well-protected border is a must to prevent intrusion from Myanmar and crimes like human trafficking and smuggling, officials at Teknaf in Cox's Bazar say.
Myanmar shares a 271-kilometre border with Cox's Bazar and Bandarban, 54km with Teknaf upazila alone.
While the border on Myanmar side is secured with fences and watchtowers, it is unfenced and poorly manned on Bangladesh side.
Border Guard Bangladesh officials say ensuring border protection is very difficult with inadequate resources. It is also not easy to guard a border that cuts through canals, hills, forests, river and sea.
The local administration earlier sent higher authorities a set of proposals that include setting up fences with pocket gates for legal movements and a road on the dam surrounding the Naf river to strengthen vigilance and increasing the number of border outposts (BOP) on Teknaf border.
As the Rohingya intrusion increased due to violence at bordering Rakhine state in Myanmar over the past week, the administration again sent the proposals to high-ups.
"Two-three days ago, I sent the Cabinet Division our recommendations, including increasing outposts and watchtowers on the border, constructing a road on the dam and putting up fences on the border," Cox's Bazar Deputy Commissioner Jainul Bari told The Daily Star yesterday.
Jainul again placed the recommendations at an inter-ministerial meeting at the foreign ministry yesterday. The proposals would be forwarded to the cabinet for the consideration of policymakers, he added.
Apart from continuous Rohingya intrusion, there are many other long-standing problems in the bordering area. Smuggling of arms and drugs and human trafficking are the serous ones.
It is common knowledge at Teknaf that 10 or more factories of Yaba have been set up in bordering area inside Myanmar to smuggle the illegal drug into Bangladesh.
An official, involved with the border security management there, yesterday told this correspondent, "If we cannot stop the intrusion through the border, it's impossible to stop smuggling."
The government might have many other priorities, but it must fulfil the requirements for a well-protected border as soon as possible, said the officer, wishing anonymity.
Fencing the border alone would not be enough as intruders from Myanmar could still come through the sea, the officer noted. So, the authorities just cannot afford to leave the 120-km sea beach from Cox's Bazar to Teknaf unprotected.
Lt Col Md Khalequzzaman, commanding officer of BGB 17 Battalion in Cox's Bazar, told The Daily Star yesterday, "Though very expensive, fencing would be good to keep the border well-protected. There are some alternative ideas such as roads parallel to borders and joint border patrolling by BGB and Nasaka [Myanmar border force]."
A high-level BGB source said the idea of fencing was discussed at a recent conference in Dhaka. The government has taken the matter seriously.
The border guards also want more BOPs at Teknaf as they have only nine outposts for the 54km border.
Although the force wanted approval for another four, the government started construction of two new BOPs for Teknaf border, a BGB source said. The work might be complete in December.
Also a watchtower was being built at Ghola Para of Teknaf's Shah Porir Dweep. BGB officials say they need more.
Meanwhile, coast guard sources said the force that started its journey in 1995 still faces a number of problems in guarding the borders.
While the coast guard needs modern vessels to patrol a rough sea like the Bay of Bengal and the Naf river, none of its stations -- Teknaf upazila headquarters, Shah Porir Dweep and Saint Martin's Island -- has adequate boats.
Besides, the force suffers a manpower shortage. If there were fences on the border, it would have made things a lot easier, added the sources.