Nepal, China agree to reopen second border point for supply of goods after five monthsAs per the agreement, Chinese cargo drivers will drop the goods off at the Nepal border point in Rasuwagadhi and once the Chinese loaders and drivers leave, Nepali drivers and loaders will receive the shipment and take them.
Nepal and China have agreed to resume one-way traffic to Nepal through the Rasuwagadhi border point after a closure of five months, as much construction material necessary for hydropower and airport projects have been stuck at the northern border. However, the exact date to reopen the border has not been finalised.
Nepal had closed its two border points with China — Tatopani and Rasuwagadhi — since January 29 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Hari Prasad Pant, chief district officer of Rasuwa, said that reopening the border point had been discussed between authorities from the two countries at the Nepal-China Friendship Bridge (Miteri Bridge) on Wednesday.
As per the agreement, Chinese cargo drivers will drop the goods at Nepal border point and once the Chinese loaders and drivers return, Nepali drivers and loaders will receive the shipment and take them to the respective places.
The Chinese authorities have asked Nepali side to provide details of 15 drivers and 15 workers who will bring the goods from the border point, said Punya Bikram Khadka, chief customs officer at Rasuwa Customs Office.
Khadka said that initially four trucks will be allowed to import goods daily and the number of trucks will be increased gradually.
“We have accorded priority to import essential goods, mainly construction equipment, in the first phase.”
As the financial closure of most of the projects like hydropower and airport need to be completed by mid-July, which is the end of the current fiscal year, priority will be given to import their equipment, he said.
A large number of equipment of Bhairahawa and Pokhara international airports has been stranded in the border point after the lockdown was imposed in January.
Khadka said that people's movement would not be allowed on either side of the border except the workers and the drivers. “Their [drivers and workers] test will be conducted every day.”
Pant said that both sides agreed to temporarily stop the movement of people in view of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Chinese side also agreed to check the cargo trucks on their side of the border as part of safety measures. Usually, goods need clearance from the customs of both countries.
“We have to complete the necessary preparations including border security arrangements, quarantine checks, health security arrangements, customs checks and other issues on Nepal's side as soon as possible,” he said. “The opening of the border depends on our plan.”
The bridge at the Rasuwagadhi border point was formally opened in June last year with Chinese aid after the old bridge was damaged in the 2015 earthquake. The distance from Rasuwagadhi to Kerung, the second international border point between Nepal and China is 24 km.
Currently, in Rasuwagadhi there are few security officials at the border checkpoint and some empty containers lined up to go to Kerung to pick up the goods.
Khadka said that revenue collection in Rasuwagadhi customs has come to zero in the last three months. Readymade garments, apples, shoes and slippers, bags and glasses are mainly imported from this border point.
On March 25, the high-level coordination committee for the prevention and control of Covid-19, headed by Defence Minister Ishwar Pokharel, had decided to reopen the two Chinese border points to ensure supply of essential goods including medicines and medical equipment from the northern neighbour.
Tatopani border was opened on April 8 to bring medicines and health equipment from China.