As the essential goods continue to flow inside country, Health Ministry issues safety protocal for officials and drivers dealing with import of goodsDrivers and their assistants need to self-declare they are free of Covid-19
The government has issued safety guidelines for people who are involved in clearing the goods from the point of entry from border to customs clearance as the government has allowed continuity of essential supplies from other countries.
As per the recently issued guidelines, the government officials involved in clearing the goods need to take a number of measures including ensuring that the person involved in the delivery of goods is not infected with the novel coronavirus. Decontamination of trucks carrying goods, use of gloves, masks and other safety equipment and observing social distance are other measures outlined in the guidelines.
The guidelines have been sent to various customs, quarantine and other offices in major border points from where cross-border movement of goods take place.
“We received the guidelines from the Customs Department a couple of days ago,” said Dhundi Niraula, chief customs officer at Birgunj Customs.
Although the department had issued similar health guidelines for the customs offices across the country, Naraula said that there are some new provisions in the new guidelines they have received.
For example, there is a provision where drivers and their assistants of vehicles carrying goods have to fill up self-declaration forms claiming that they are Covid-19 free and they have not come in contact with any person suffering from Covid-19-like symptoms in the past three weeks.
In self-declaration form, they also need to promise that they are ready to face legal action if the declaration turns out to be untrue.
“In order to implement the new provisions, I am organising a meeting with people from Birgunj Dry Port and Integrated Check Post and the customs agents on Wednesday,” Niraula said.
According to the new guidelines,the health desk must report to their concerned authorities if the persons in charge of delivery trucks are found to be sick and send them to the designated hospital.
Health desk workers should also ensure that people delivering goods into the country are wearing face masks and that they clean their hands with soap or sanitisers before they are allowed to pass.
After passing the health desk, the relevant customs office needs to oversee the process of decontaminating the goods carrying vehicle in coordination with the local administration and concerned local government.
The local administration or government also needs to issue a decontamination certificate to the truck.
Only after the disinfection process completes, the goods can go to the quarantine office for clearance.
Niraula said that they had already adopted the process of driver’s seat and his immediate surroundings inside the truck and the wheels of the truck.
According to him, Birgunj Customs, which is the largest customs point, has been clearing around 20 trucks carrying essential goods daily.
The latest guidelines also instruct the concerned customs office to safely separate medical goods, food and perishable items before decontaminating the vehicle.
Personnel involved in this process should compulsorily wear suits covering their whole body, protective goggles, surgical mask and gloves.
“We have ensured the availability of all necessary materials for the safety of our staff,” said Shishir Ghimire, information officer at the Department of Customs.