Over 500 trucks stranded in Kerung due to tighter securityMore than 500 container trucks loaded with goods for Dashain, the biggest festival of Hindus in the country, have been stranded in the Chinese border town of Kerung after Chinese authorities tightened security in the Rasuwagadhi-Kerung border area.
More than 500 container trucks loaded with goods for Dashain, the biggest festival of Hindus in the country, have been stranded in the Chinese border town of Kerung after Chinese authorities tightened security in the Rasuwagadhi-Kerung border area.
Chinese security personnel had started tightening security in the border area after Nepali police confiscated 88 kg of contraband gold in Kathmandu last week. The shipment had entered Nepal via the Rasuwagadhi-Kerung border point.
Only a few trucks have entered Nepal from China since security measures were heightened. This has affected Nepali traders who have ordered goods for the Dashain festival which officially begins in less than a week.
Chinese security personnel currently take 10 to 15 minutes to check each empty cargo vehicle that passes through the Nepali border, traders said. As a result, only 30 to 40 cargo trucks are reaching Kerung daily to pick up cargo.
“This has created a shortage of cargo trucks to transport the shipments that have arrived in Kerung,” said trader Sailesh Poudel. “Some of these goods are stored in warehouses, but many shipments have been left on the trucks due to lack of space.”
Cargo trucks entering Nepal from China are also facing similar problems, as both Chinese and Nepali security personnel are taking a long time to conduct security checks. As a result, a queue of 150 Nepal-bound cargo trucks have piled up on the Chinese side of the border.
According to traders, Chinese security personnel having been swiftly releasing shipments of perishable goods like fruits. But billions of rupees worth of clothes, footwear and electronic goods remain stuck on the Chinese side, said Kedar Paneru, chief of the Customs Office at Rasuwa.
Since the Chinese government closed the Tatopani customs point after the devastating April 2015 earthquake, Rasuwagadhi-Kerung has become the only transit point for overland trade with the northern neighbour. The trade route was officially opened in 2014.
Nepal imports goods such as apples, readymade garments, footwear, toys, herbs like jimbu, cosmetics and electronics through this border point. In return, Nepal exports flour, chilli, rice, noodles and fruit juice, among other products.
On a normal day, around 70 container trucks pass through the Rasuwagadhi-Kerung route. But trade through this route is not very smooth as various segments usually get blocked by landslides. Also, traders and cargo trucks face a lot of problems on this route because of poor customs and road infrastructure on the Nepal side.
As per international norms, international border points must house immigration, customs, police, quarantine offices and banks. However, on the Nepali side, most of the customs clearing work is done under tents while a police check post has been built using corrugated metal sheets. Immigration and customs offices are located in Timure, 1.5 km from the border.
On top of all these problems, the recent decision to tighten security right before Dashain, when consumption surges, is likely to hit traders.
“We have requested Chinese officials to release as many cargo trucks as possible,” said Hiradevi Poudel, chief district officer of Rasuwa, who led a delegation to meet with Chinese officials in Kerung. “They have responded positively.”