Rasuwagadhi awaits infra developmentThe devastating earthquake of 2015 had totally destroyed the infrastructure in Kerung, China. But after two years, anyone who reaches the area is surprised because of the well developed buildings, highway, modern immigration and well-equipped customs offices.
The devastating earthquake of 2015 had totally destroyed the infrastructure in Kerung, China. But after two years, anyone who reaches the area is surprised because of the well developed buildings, highway, modern immigration and well-equipped customs offices. However, things are different on the Nepal’s side-the same old tents and poor roads. The Rasuwagadhi-Kerung, Nepal’s only gateway to land trade with China looks pathetic.
As Kerung, 27km north of the Nepal-China border, is an emerging market for Nepali traders, the Chinese side accorded top priority to upgrade the road to facilitate the movement of Nepali vehicles on highways in the bordering Tibetan Autonomous Region of China. It completed the upgradation works in no time. China aims to extend its Qinghai-Tibet railway to Kerung by 2020. However, on the Nepali side nothing has been done so far. Rasuwagadhi checkpoint was opened in mid-November 2015 as an alternative to Tatopani. Currently, most of the trade activities are being conducted from this border point.
As per the international norms, there must be immigration, customs, police, quarantine offices and banks in the international border side. However, on the Nepali side, there are only tents and a police check post constructed using tin. The immigration and customs offices are located one and half kilometers away from the border in Timure.
Chief District Officer of Rasuwa Chomendra Neupane said that security and custom clearance has been very weak due to the lack of physical infrastructure. There is high risk of smuggling in the border point due to poor infrastructure and security mechanism. “We have asked the government to provide vehicle, x-ray machine, metal detector, CCTV camera and among other basic custom and immigration facilities at different occasions but the government turned a deaf ear,” he said. These equipments are pre-requisite in order to stop smuggling.
The lack of basic equipments has forced police to check commuters by standing in poor tents and check goods using hands.
In the last fiscal year, Rasuwagadhi Custom Office collected revenue worth Rs2.92 billion. Kedar Paneru, chief of Rasuwagadhi Custom Office, said that currently imported fruits, vegetables, cotton, petroleum products and other products are being checked from the road of Timure.
He said that traders are also facing difficulties to entre China due to permit issue. The government has recently signed an agreement with a construction association to build an integrated building.
Ghir Fadera, chief of the Department of Urban Development and Building Construction, division office Rasuwa, said as per the agreement the project will be completed within three years. The estimated cost for the project is Rs548.5 million. The integrated building will consist of immigration and custom, security and quarantine offices. In the past, the government used to operate a small customs office at Rasuwagadhi to regulate the trade that has been going on from ancient times. Local products of the Kathmandu valley, Nuwakot and Rasuwa used to be exported to Kyirong and Jongkha over this traditional caravan route. Similarly, importers would bring salt, wool, gold and quadrupeds through this border point to Nepal.
Trade through this route was boosted after China constructed a 16-km road connecting Syaphrubesi and Rasuwagadhi.