Tankers, trucks travel under police escortMore than 160 oil tankers and trucks carrying daily essentials left Birgunj for various parts of the country under police escort on Friday in a bid to prevent shortages as transportation remains crippled due to strikes.
More than 160 oil tankers and trucks carrying daily essentials left Birgunj for various parts of the country under police escort on Friday in a bid to prevent shortages as transportation remains crippled due to strikes.
According to Sushil Prasad Sharma, information officer of the Birgunj Customs Office, 84 tankers loaded with diesel, petrol and kerosene, and 19 trucks carrying liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) bullets departed Birgunj with police providing security.
In addition, 70 trucks carrying clothes and essential commodities like fruits, vegetables and meat were dispatched to the Kathmandu valley and other locations. The indefinite strike called by the United Democratic Madhesi Front protesting against the proposed federal set-up has severely affected trade and business activities.
As most of the imports enter the country through the southern border, strikes and subsequent curfew orders issued by the administration in most parts of the Tarai have affected the supply of goods in the valley and other hills districts.
Traders in Kathmandu said they had started witnessing a shortage of daily essentials. Prices of almost all the commodities have also skyrocketed due to the fear of shortages.
SSP Manoj Neupane said that the police escorted 250 freight and passengers vehicles on Thursday night from Birgunj to their respective destinations.
The District Administration Office, Parsa slapped an indefinite curfew in Birgunj on Monday. A section of the Birgunj-Pathlaiya highway has been declared a prohibited zone. Since then, the police have been providing security cover to the vehicles traversing the route.
Meanwhile, goods have been piling up at Sirsiya Dry Port for the last five days due to the strike and curfew in Birgunj. The port management said that it had become difficult for them to handle the incoming shipments as they were running out of storage space.
Ram Babu Prasad, an official of Himalayan Terminal that manages the port, said that there were 125 containers stranded at the dry port as of Friday afternoon. More than 450 containers are scheduled to arrive at the port from Kolkata. “Traders are unable to release their consignments, and new consignments are piling up,” he said. According to him, 40,000 tonnes of iron are piled up at the dry port, and there is a huge amount of chemical fertilizers too. “We fear that the goods may be damaged by rain.”
Truck and tanker drivers fear to operate their vehicles after five protestors were killed in a violent demonstration in Birgunj recently. Due to the strikes, the dry port has been incurring losses amounting to Rs2.5 million daily while the government has been losing Rs60 million in tax revenue each day. “As importers have not been able to supply raw materials to factories, they are suffering huge losses,” said Pradip Kedia, president of the Birgunj Chamber of Commerce and Industry.