Rasuwagadhi-Kerung border opens for cargo trucksThe key crossing point between Nepal and China would remain open for one-way trade traffic for now amid coronavirus pandemic.
After six months of closure, Rasuwagadhi-Kerung, a key crossing point for bilateral trade between Nepal and China, was reopened on Monday.
Punya Bikram Khadka, chief of the Rasuwagadhi Customs Office, said that the first convoy of hundreds of stranded cargo trucks have started to enter Nepal.
Nearly 1,100 cargo trucks were stranded on the northern border since January when it was closed following snowfall and subsequent border shutdown by the Nepal government in the wake of Covid-19.
“The crossing point has been open for one-way traffic only for now. Only four cargo trucks or 120 tonnes of goods will be allowed to enter Nepal daily as per the agreement reached between Nepali and Chinese authorities last month,” said Khadka. “The trucks have been allowed to cross the border following certain safety measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.”
Another trade point between Nepal and China–Tatopani-Zhangmu–was reopened in March. It was also closed in January.
Khadka said that it may take months to clear the stranded goods that are carrying mainly readymade garments, electronic items and construction equipment for airport and hydropower projects.
“The border will be opened for people’s movement gradually,” said Khadka.
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 drive them to the respective places.
According to Khadka, details of 15 drivers and 15 workers who will bring the goods from the border point had been sent to the Chinese authorities.
Khadka said that people's movement would not be allowed on either side of the border. “Drivers and workers will be tested for the virus every day,” he said.
The Rasuwagadhi-Kerung is the traditional route when it comes to trading with China. The government had set up the customs office at the location nearly six decades ago.
Rasuwagadhi-Kerung, which began operations in December 2014, was the largest second border point for trade between Nepal and China after Tatopani.
On August 30, 2017, China elevated the trading route as an international checkpoint between Nepal and China, allowing people from third countries to cross the border.
Before that, only people from Nepal and China were allowed to enter each other’s territory by carrying visas and passports.