Despite the partial opening of the Tatopani and Rasuwagadhi border by China, thousands of trucks are still stuck on the Chinese side of the border reports The Rising Nepal.
China had shut the major trade and transit points – Rasuwagadhi and Tatopani, in late January last year after the coronavirus appeared in Wuhan of Hubei province. Since then, goods inbound to Nepal from China have been stuck for seven months only to result in limited cargo, mainly medical supplies, passing since September end.
According to a daily, while goods of hundreds of containers were piled up on the Chinese side, Nepali traders and importers suffered a shortage of raw materials and trading goods and were forced to close their factories.
“Entrepreneurs are struggling hard to manage the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic and months-long lockdown,” said Prakash Singh Karki, Chair of Road, Transport and Transit Committee at the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI).
He said that things were complicated as Nepali traders were not allowed to take their trucks and containers as well as people to the Chinese side. Thousands of businesses suffered troubles and losses. We requested the government and Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu many times to facilitate the smooth operation of the border points but in vain, said Niraj Rai, Chair of Customs Committee at the Nepal Chambers of Commerce (NCC).
According to the traders, the export business has become more troublesome through the northern borders. Statistics of the Department of Customs (DoC) show that there was no export trade via Rasuwagadhi and Tatopani border points.
Goods worth Rs. 5.13 billion were imported via Rasuwagadhi from mid-July to mid-December 2020 and Rs. 797.6 million from Tatopani border but export from these two points was nil.
Industry, Commerce and Supplies (MoICS) had asked the FNCCI to send the details of the goods stuck on the Chinese side.
Secretary at the MoICS, Dr. Baikuntha Aryal, said that the passing of a limited number of trucks continued at both the points and the Tatopani border might come into full operation from mid-January.
Rai said that the traders had started rerouting their imports via India which is longer and more costly. “Customs agents at Rasuwagadhi are asking for about 900,000 (50,000 RMB) to pass a container truck. Since China has allowed passing about five-eight trucks a day, some traders are forced to pay the bribe in the hope to get the work done earlier,” he said.
Rajesh Rajkarnikar, Chairman of Yoma Ma E. Motors, a company that sells China-made electric bikes and scooters in Nepal, said in a program on Friday that the time and cost to conduct trade with China was equal to that of the European nations as the goods are shipped to the Indian port and then transported to Nepal via trains and trucks.