Aug. 25–Nepal and India has agreed to use the Bhimnagar-Bhantabari small customs checkpoint in the eastern region as an alternative to the Biratnagar-Jogbani customs to keep trade movement between two countries operating smoothly.Last week’s floods have damaged railway tracks and bridges in the Indian side halting the trade activities.
The customs officials said that traders started rerouting the stranded cargo containers from Bhimnagar in the Indian side to Bhantabari in the Nepal’s side on Thursday until the damaged infrastructure is repaired.
The initiative was jointly taken by Morang Merchant Association and Industry Association Morang. Ram Prasad Acharya, Chief District Officer of Morang and Pawan Kumar, deputy commissioner of Jogbani Customs signed an agreement on behalf of their respective countries.
“Now, the cargo consignments have started to arrive from the Bhimnagar-Bhantabari small customs checkpoint,” said Mukesh Upadhyaya, president of the Industry Association Morang.
The association said that more than 1,000 Nepal-bound cargo trucks have arrives through the point on Thursday. They said that rerouting the containers have increased transportation costs as trucks have to cover an additional 100km distance. Rerouting the cargo trucks to Bhimnagar-Bhantabari has dried up revenue collection of Biratnagar-Jogbani customs.
The customs used to collect revenue of Rupees 60 million ($577,958) daily, which has dropped to Rupees 4 million daily. The Biratnagar-Jogbani point is primarily used to import industrial raw materials for Sunsari-Morang Industrial Corridor. The finished products are then exported.
Raw materials had been stranded at Bathana, Bihar since last four days. The halt in imports of raw materials had severely affected the industrial corridor and were at a risk of being closed down.
Pradip Murarka, vice president of Morang Merchant Association, said that on the one hand factories were facing risk of closure; while on the other hand, traders were forced to pay demurrage and detention charges to shipping companies. He said that if an empty truck is stranded for a day, traders have to pay Rupees 4,000 and for a cargo-laden truck the detention charge amounts to Rupees 11,000.
Apart from the damage of railway tracks connecting Jogbani in India, a bridge of Parwana river in Bihar has also collapsed. Since Sunday, Indian police has stopped the movement of vehicle from the bridge.
However, people are allowed to walk on the bridge. The damage in tracks and bridge has not only affected the trade, it has also affected students, patients and Nepali migrant workers travelling to India. The Indian authority has informed that it would take at least 15 days to repair the bridge and a month to resume railway services.
(US$1 = 103 Nepalese rupees via oanda.com as on August 25, 2017)
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