Nepal-bound cargo stranded in IndiaNearly 900 Nepal-bound cargo containers have been stranded at India’s Kolkata port after last week’s floods damaged railway tracks, halting the consignment in different parts of Indian states.
Nearly 900 Nepal-bound cargo containers have been stranded at India’s Kolkata port after last week’s floods damaged railway tracks, halting the consignment in different parts of Indian states.
Animesh Kumar, information officer at the Himalayan Terminals, the operator of Birgunj’s Sirsiya Dry Port, said they were informed that railway tracks have been damaged by floods in different parts of Indian states, while a pillar of a bridge caved in near Sitamarhi in Bihar. Containers take three to four-days to cover the 700-km journey from Kolkata port in the West Bengal state to Birgunj by rail. “The present scenario shows that it will take few more days to resume transportation services.”
However, a freight train carrying iron that was initially stuck at Adapur Railway Station,managed to arrive at the dry port last Friday. Another freight train stranded at Chauradano station in Bihar arrived last Saturday. Kumar said that the railway track from Raxaul to Motihari is expected to open within a couple of days. However, the track from Raxaul to east Sitamarhi is expected to take more time. “The Indian railway authority has been repairing the damaged tracks. However, it is less likely that the authority will immediately open the track for cargo containers,” said Kumar.
Nepali importers will be liable to pay demurrage and detention charges to shipping companies if they fail to load or unload freight in the time allowed by the contract. The heavily crowded dry port has been wearing a deserted look since last week. Currently, there are around 40 containers at the port’s yard. Likewise, nearly 140 empty containers that were due to be dispatched to shipping companies in Kolkata lie stranded at the port. As there are no trade activities, it has affected customs revenue collection. Customs Officer Ganesh Poudel said that customs revenue collection on Friday stood at Rs40 million, which plunged to Rs1.4 million on Saturday.
On a normal trading day, the customs office used to collect Rs60-70 million in revenue. “However, we are expecting revenue collection to improve from Monday onwards as we have heard that Indian railway authority will be rerouting the stranded containers.”
Apart from the damaged railway tracks, the road transport infrastructure at Birgunj Customs point—one of the key trading hub of the country—is poor. The floods that had inundated different parts of Bihar have damaged key highways and feeder roads connecting Birgunj which has led many Nepal-bound cargo trucks to be stranded at different locations.
“The damaged roads have impacted revenue collection as well,” said Santosh Yadav, information officer at Birgunj Customs Office. Last Friday, the office revenue collection stood at Rs330 million, which dropped to Rs110 million on Saturday. The office collects revenue of Rs380-400 million on a normal trading day.