Biratnagar integrated check post slated to be inaugurated todayThe facility at the Biratnagar-Jogbani transit point was constructed with a Rs2.8 billion Indian grant.
A second integrated check post on the Nepal-India border at Biratnagar is slated to commence formal operations from Tuesday, three years after construction started.
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi are scheduled to inaugurate the facility at the Biratnagar-Jogbani transit point remotely from Kathmandu and New Delhi, respectively at 11:15 am.
The two prime ministers will address the programme through a video conference.
The integrated check post is expected to facilitate Nepal-India commerce. It also houses quarantine and lab facilities which will reduce hassles for Nepali traders by eliminating the need to travel to Kolkata to get their products tested.
The Biratnagar-Jogbani border crossing is the second busiest transit point on the Nepal-India border after the Birgunj-Raxaul transit point further west.
The integrated check post at Biratnagar was constructed with a Rs2.8 billion Indian grant. The Indian portion was completed in 2016. Work on the Nepal side of the border was delayed due to land compensation issues.
The Indian government will hand over the check post to the Nepal Intermodal Transport Development Board which is preparing to assign Trans Nepal to operate the facility, according to Hemendra Mohan Shahi, chief of the board. “It will take a week to make the facility fully operational.”
The new integrated check post is expected to reduce traffic congestion caused by pedestrians, small vehicles and cargo vehicles. The problem of traffic congestion at the Biratnagar Customs Office has prompted some traders to reroute their cargo vehicles via the Birgunj Customs Office.
The distance between Birgunj and Kolkata port, which is landlocked Nepal's main access to the sea, is 1,200 km, whereas the distance between Biratnagar and Kolkata is only 735 km.
The integrated check post at Biratnagar will lead to a reduction in the cost of raw materials and commodities as customs clearance will be expedited, traders said.
The check post will provide relief to more than 500 manufacturing firms that have set up bases in the Sunsari-Morang Industrial Corridor and promote Nepal’s trade with India and third countries.
In December 2016, the government allotted 129 bighas of land for the construction of the check post in Budhnagar. In 2005, Nepal and India signed an accord to build four integrated check posts straddling the border at Biratnagar, Birgunj, Bhairahawa and Nepalgunj. Under the agreement, there will be matching complexes on both sides of the border.
The Biratnagar check post is the second such facility after Birgunj built on the Nepal-India border. It is connected by railway to Kolkata port.
The Indian government signed a construction agreement with Dineshchandra R Agrawal Infracon of Ahmedabad, India in December 2016.
The check post houses immigration, customs and border security offices, quarantine facility, currency exchange counter, internet service and cafeteria, said Abadesh Sah, manager of the project.
“The mirror facilities will make it easy for traders to complete a number of services related to customs clearance and immigration,” said Abinash Bohara, central member of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
“The railway service connecting Biratnagar with Kolkata will reduce transportation costs,” said Bohara.
In April 2018, the first cargo train was flagged off from Kolkata port to Bathana, Bihar near the Nepal-India border point at Biratnagar. It took five days for the cargo train to reach Bathana railway station, which is 6 km south of Jogbani.
Currently, a 6-km railway line from Raxaul, India to Sirsiya Inland Container Depot or dry port near Birgunj carries freight transport.