Goods brought by Chinese train reach RasuwagadhiA much publicized trainload of goods dispatched from Lanzhou in China has arrived at the Nepali border at Rasuwagadhi after making an 11-day, 3,030-km journey.
A much publicized trainload of goods dispatched from Lanzhou in China has arrived at the Nepali border at Rasuwagadhi after making an 11-day, 3,030-km journey, blazing a new trail which is expected to provide an alternative to the months-long sea route via Guangzhou and Kolkata.
The shipment consisting of daily necessities and home appliances was brought by rail up to Shigatse, 2,431 km from Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu province, and from there by truck to Kyirong, a distance of 564 km. The shipment reached Rasuwagadhi on Saturday which is 35 km from Kyirong across the border. The freight train had 43 carriages and 86 cargo containers.
The Rasuwa Customs Office said that the goods arrived in Rasuwagadhi in six containers from Kyirong (Geelong Port). “The goods have arrived,” said Kedar Paneru, chief of the Rasuwa Customs Office, “They are expected to reach Kathmandu tomorrow.”
According to traders, a fenced parking yard with space for 300 trucks has been constructed in Kyirong. The shipment is yet to clear customs after which it will be forwarded to Kathmandu.
“The traders used to transport goods in trucks before the Chinese railway network connected Shigatse in Tibet,” said Paneru. “We still have to use trucks to bring goods the rest of the way from Shigatse to Nepal.”
Traders complained that even though their goods had arrived at Rasuwa, they had not been able to inspect them because they were not provided a one-day pass to cross the border into China. “We are not able to inspect and bring our goods because we do not have a permit,” said Budhhi Raj Basnet, a trader from Sindhupalchok.
According to traders, problems arose after China refused to issue them one-day passes. Drivers residing in Rasuwa have permanent permits and are paid Rs15,000 to Rs20,000 to transport the goods across the border.
After that, traders pay customs duties and unloading fees before bringing their shipments to Kathmandu. “We are forced to leave our goods worth millions in the hands of third parties,” complained Basnet. “We only saw our goods after they entered Nepal.”
The importers also complained that the containers contained less goods than ordered and a few trucks driven by novices had accidents or break-downs.
“The Nepali authorities themselves have not permitted Nepali traders to cross the border in violation of the China-Nepal agreement allowing 10-15 people to enter China daily,” a trader complained. The immigration office had made arrangements to allow people in need to visit Kyirong. As of now, the arrangement is not in effect.
More than 200 trucks are sitting idle at the customs yard at Rasuwagadhi.
The customs office said traders were unwilling to clear their goods complaining at the fees. They have also demanded that different goods must not be charged the same clearance fees.
The Rasuwagadhi Customs Office collected Rs1 billion in fees and taxes in the last three months. According to the customs office, the total collection per day amounts to Rs30 million to Rs40 million.
Trade through the Rasuwagadhi border has picked up pace lately after being disrupted by last year’s killer quake. The movement of container drivers, traders and porters has increased in recent days.
After commerce resumed at the border, porters, small shops and hotels have benefited from the opportunities that emerged. There are more than 60 porters at the customs yard, Paneru said.