Bhotekoshi residents demand complete opening of Tatopani border pointThe partial opening of the border point has hampered local businesses and the transportation sector.
The local residents of Bhotekoshi, local traders, transportation workers and other concerned stakeholders on Saturday took out a protest rally in Liping Bazaar demanding authorities to resume complete operation of the Tatopani border point, a major customs point along the Nepal-China border.
The concerned parties have been organising various rallies and mass meetings urging authorities of both the countries to fully operate the border point.
“Tatopani border point remained closed for a long time owing to fears of Covid-19 and outburst of a glacial lake on the Chinese side. The border point finally opened from October last week but only limited goods are being imported to Nepal. We have urged the authorities to fully open the border but our requests have gone unheard,” said Raj Kumar Paudel, the chairman of Bhotekoshi Rural Municipality. According to him, the local traders, transportation workers and the concerned stakeholders have been greatly affected due to the ‘partial’ resumption of the border point.
The Tatopani border point was reopened on October 5 after three months of closure due to Covid-19 restrictions. But the Chinese authority closed the border point a few days later after three Nepali workers tested positive for Covid-19.
The authorities of Nepal and China again reopened the Tatopani border point on October 28 by managing health security modality. An isolation area has also been established in the border area amid fear of Covid-19 outbreak.
According to Lal Bahadur Khatri, chief at Tatopani Dry Port and Customs Office, before the pandemic, 50 containers used to enter Nepal through the border point on a daily basis but now, the number has dwindled down to five.
“We had collected Rs 1.59 billion as revenue in the last fiscal year. This year, we have collected only Rs 174.8 million revenue,” said Khatri.
Hundreds of container drivers and their assistants have been jobless, as the border point is yet to come in full operation.
“Many container drivers working in the area for years have been jobless since the start of the pandemic. The containers of Chinese transporters are being used to import goods to Nepal these days,” said Arjun Sapkota, chairman of Nepal Truck Container Service Limited. “We will launch more protests if the concerned authorities do not pay heed to our demands.”