Traders concerned about ICP operationIndia has started preparations to start operations of Integrated Check Post (ICP) on its side of the Birgunj-Raxaul border, while the infrastructure on the Nepali side is yet to be completed.
India has started preparations to start operations of Integrated Check Post (ICP) on its side of the Birgunj-Raxaul border, while the infrastructure on the Nepali side is yet to be completed.
But Nepali traders have expressed concern that the operation of the ICP on the Indian side could disrupt normal trade through the Birgunj customs point because of the longer distance they have to travel to reach the ICP for customs clearance works.
All the services necessary for export-import such as customs, immigration, quarantine and banks, among others, are available at the ICP and such facilities are being built on the either side of the border. India has taken the responsibility of building the ICPs on both the sides.
India plans to start operations of the ICP on its side from Friday. During an interaction with Nepali stakeholders last week, Indian customs official Binayak Chandra Gupta had informed about India’s plans. The Land Port Authority of India is responsible for operating the Indian ICP. The Indian authority will conduct customs clearance-related works at the ICP based at Panatoka, Raxual and send the goods through the Birgunj customs.
Nepali traders, however, said this would affect export-import being
carried out through Birgunj. “For example, tankers receiving
loading from Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) near Raxual customs will
have to reach Pantaoka-based ICP for customs clearance,” said an importer. “The tankers need to cross a
The readers said trains move on the track at least six times in a day, and each passing train results in traffic ham of at least half an hour. They said fuel supply could be reduced significantly once the ICP on the Indian side comes into operation. About 70 percent of petroleum imports of Nepal is conducted through Birgunj.
The Nepali ICP is being built at Sirsiya which is close to the Indian ICP. Once the Nepali ICP is completed, Birgunj customs will shift there. According to Nepali officials, 25 percent works on the ICP on the Nepali side is still to be completed.
Not only in the import petroleum products, export-import of other goods are also expected to be affected. President of Birgunj Chambers of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) Pradeep Kediya said Nepal’s trade will be heavily affected if the ICP on the Indian side is operated. “Importers will be affected. So we would like to request the Indian ICP not be started until the Nepali ICP is ready for operation,” said Kedia.
Former President of BCCI Ashok Baidya said Nepali importers might have to pay millions of rupees in demurrage charges. “More than 1,000 trucks enter Nepal through Birgunj and traffic jam due to train movement could force importers to pay demurrage charges heavily.”
Similar is the assessment of Birgunj Customs Chief Sewantak Pokharel. “Trucks loaded with goods have to travel 13km from the Indian ICP to Birgunj customs. It will create more trouble for importers,” he said.
As per the agreement between Nepal and India, the ICP was on the Nepal side was supposed to be completed four years ago.