Market prices in Humla plunge with trucks moving cargoGoods are being brought in by trucks from China through the border town of Hilsa.
The remote Himalayan district of Humla in Nepal's northwestern corner is yet to be connected to the national road network, so cargo is being brought in by truck from China through the border town of Hilsa. Most of the imported items are food and construction materials.
People in roadless Humla are forced to use air transport which comes with a high price tag. The goods are then carried to rural areas by mule trains and other means of transport. According to local traders, air cargo costs Rs130 per kg. Trucks now allow them to bring goods through Hilsa for Rs40 per kg.
“Prices have fallen significantly. Construction materials have become much cheaper,” said John Rawat, proprietor of New Rawat Construction Services.
“Supplying goods by airplane is not only very expensive, we cannot be certain about the shipment arriving on time due to the unpredictable weather,” he said. “The road connection with China means development activities will speed up.”
Six tippers transport cargo from Hilsa to the district headquarters Simikot daily. A sack of cement used to cost up to Rs10,000 when flown in from Nepalgunj and Surkhet as airlines charge Rs130 per kg.
“The cement brought by truck from Hilsa costs Rs4,500 per sack,” said Dhurba Kumar Shahi, director of Siriya Construction Service. “The price has decreased significantly now.” Not only cement, other goods have also become cheaper by almost half, he said.
A truck takes a day to make the trip from Hilsa to Simikot, said Ram Bahadur Bhandari, president of the Contractor Entrepreneurs Association. Tipper trucks charge Rs3,000 per quintal for transporting cargo from Hilsa to Simikot.
According to him, the price of most goods in Simikot has decreased by 30 percent. “The daily operation of tippers on the route has also brought jobs to youths,” he said. Construction materials are being delivered on time. According to traders, they are working to use tippers with Nepali number plates on the route from Hilsa to Simikot.