Much hype, little work to show: Rasuwagadhi border point lies in a state of disrepairWhile the Chinese side of the border has received a major facelift, that of Nepal remains in a sorry state.
The 2015 earthquakes led to a blockade of two major border points to China: Rasuwagadhi and Tatopani. Rasuwagadhi reopened about seven months after the earthquakes in December 2015. Most of the imports from China are coming through this border crossing since, with the Tatopani border reopening only in May-end this year.
Rasuwagadhi also hogged the limelight after it played a crucial role in importing daily essentials during the Indian imposed economic blockade. It has gained more prominence of late having been declared the gateway to the proposed China-Nepal rail service. Both Nepali and Chinese governments have placed the border in top priority.
But, while the Chinese side of the border has gone through a significant facelift in terms of infrastructure development, that on the Nepali side remains in a sorry state.
The Chinese side has a proper blacktopped road and modern buildings. Its checkpoint is armed with state-of-the-art equipment. The condition on the Nepali side of the border is in sharp contrast to that. Plumes of dust swirl in the air whenever a vehicle plies the road. And when it rains, the road turns into muddy mess ridden with potholes, with landslide threats lurking. Adding to the woes are complaints from officials and locals of increased irregularities at the customs. The Nepali custom lacks essential security equipment such as ‘vehicle x-ray’ and ‘metal detector’, according to traffic police, who operate from a shabby hut.
Businessmen complain of having to go through hassles in security check-ups. The import office and customs office are at a distance of 1.5 km from each other. Moreover, the customs office does not have ample parking space. “Merchants have had to face several hurdles to import goods,” said Niraj Rai, customs chair of Nepal Chamber of Commerce. “It’s business with a significant risk of natural disasters.”
While the Nepali government seems indifferent, the Chinese side has started giving the Syafrubesi-Rasuwagadhi a facelift, said Rai. “If only the road was blacktopped, the merchants could import double the amount of goods they are doing now,” Rai said.