Lack of banking services at Tatopani stalls tradeTraders have not be able to clear their shipments through Tatopani customs even though China has started allowing Nepal-bound cargo stuck at Khasa due to last year’s earthquake to pass as there are no banks where they can pay taxes and import duties.
Traders have not be able to clear their shipments through Tatopani customs even though China has started allowing Nepal-bound cargo stuck at Khasa due to last year’s earthquake to pass as there are no banks where they can pay taxes and import duties.
There are presently 45 containers at the Tatopani customs yard, but the customs office has been immobilized due to lack of banks which relocated following the deadly tremor. “A total of 110 containers have been loaded, but there is not enough space at the customs yard to accommodate them all,” said Bishnu Bahadur Shrestha, president of the Trans-Himalaya Business Association.
The customs office said that they had space for only 50 containers as part of the parking lot was damaged by the quake. As a result, the shipments cleared by Chinese customs at Khasa wait on the other side of the border to enter Nepal.
After the Chinese authorities in Khasa started clearing Nepal-bound cargo last week, convoys of containers began rolling towards Nepal. Before the earthquake, there were four banks on the Nepal side of the border. As the quake had damaged almost all the infrastructures near the border point, banks had shut down their branch offices.
They have informed the customs office that they cannot resume services until they get assurances that cargo movement will be allowed through the border point permanently.
The banks fear that the costs of reopening their branch offices will be wasted if the border point is closed again. Before the quake, Tatopani was the main border trade point between Nepal and China. Chief of Tatopani Customs Divya Raj Pokharel said that the goods stuck at the border would be cleared by making arrangements for traders to pay customs duties at banks in the Kathmandu Valley.
President of the Sindhupalchok Chamber of Commerce and Industry Kamal Kumar Shrestha said they were working to clear the shipments through Nepali customs by paying taxes at banks in Kathmandu.
According to Shrestha of the Trans-Himalayan Business Association, there are still 350 containers stuck in Khasa. The Chinese authorities have made arrangements to clear Nepal-bound goods by providing a special pass to Nepali traders.
Considering the fragile and landslide-prone terrain in the region, the Chinese authorities have been bringing Chinese workers to load and unload goods and sending them back at the end of the workday. There are 16 Chinese officials on duty at the customs office in Khasa.