Pharma cos, traders seek securityA day after an attack on a truck carrying medicines in Birgunj, drug importers and pharmaceutical companies said on Saturday that delivery of drugs may not be possible unless there is a guarantee of complete security.
A day after an attack on a truck carrying medicines in Birgunj, drug importers and pharmaceutical companies said on Saturday that delivery of drugs may not be possible unless there is a guarantee of complete security.
Hours after the agitating Samyukta Loktantrik Tarai Morcha, a constituent of four Tarai-based parties, decided to allow medicines and other essentials to pass through the region where protests have been stepped up, Morcha activists on Thursday midnight set a truck laden with medicines on fire, which has sparked fears among drug importers and pharmaceutical companies.
“The incident of arson has tied us up in knots; we are simply unable to offer any alternative,” said Shanker Ghimire, president of Asso-ciation of Pharmaceutical Producers of Nepal. APPON and Nepal Chemists and Druggists Association (NCDA) had earlier asked Indian companies to reroute their vehicles from Raxaul to Sunali and pressed the Health Ministry to ask the Indian authorities to loosen the trade embargo on medicines.
Nepal imports most of the drugs from India through Raxaul border, but due to the protests in the region trucks carrying medicines and other essentials are stuck there. NCDA officials say more than 350 container trucks have been stuck at several border points.
Earlier, the Department of Drug Administration had said that over 80 trucks were stuck in the region, but the number was immediately revised after all the importers started sending the details of their imported products and their status. Importers said they have begun hiring houses in Raxaul to store the medicines that need to be kept in room temperature.
Other medicines have already been stored in warehouses or sent to other destinations in India for storage, importers said. “Sadly, we have not got any security assurances from the government for our employees and medicines,” said Mrigendra Mehar Shrestha, president of NCDA.
The importers have also condemned Morcha’s decision to allow the trucks to pass through Jogbani only. They say the Jogbani entry point is not feasible.
“The government must provide security to these vehicles carrying essential medicine—from border points to the destination,” said Ghimire.
The country is reeling under acute crisis of medicines for the last three months. Some hospitals have reduced number of surgeries due to lack of surgical equipment and medicines.
UN chief Ban expresses concern
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has underlined his growing concern over the blockade of essential supplies on the Nepal-India border.
A statement published on the United Nation’s website on Friday reads, “He is alarmed by reports of the obstruction, and destruction, of life-saving medical supplies and the continued impact on humanitarian operations.”
Ban called on all sides to lift the restrictions without further delay and also underlined Nepal’s “right of free transit”.
In view of the Madhesi Morcha’s—an alliance of the agitating Tarai-centric parties—plan to further intensify the protests from Saturday, Ban stressed the importance of dialogue and non-violence, as well as respect for peaceful protest and freedom of assembly.
He urged all sides to resolve differences in a peaceful and flexible manner and reiterated UN’s support to Nepal’s efforts to build a democratic, inclusive, peaceful and prosperous future.