Money

Cargo volume at Birgunj ICP increases sharply

- SHANKAR ACHARYA, PARSA

The integrated check post (ICP) in Birgunj is handling 70 percent of the commerce that used to pass through the customs point since it opened four months ago.

Cargo volume at the country’s only ICP increased sharply with the government making efforts to promote the new facility.

Birgunj ICP Chief Shyam Prasad Bhandari said they had shifted most of their customs related services to the ICP. “The check post now handles almost 90 percent of Nepal’s third country trade,” Bhandari said.

The country’s oil imports and cargo arriving at Raxaul Junction railway station are still processed by the old customs point. “It is not possible for the ICP to handle these products with its existing infrastructure,” Bhandari said.

Despite the increase in traffic, the ICP lacks adequate infrastructure. The warehouses and parking yards are too small, and the 700-metre long stretch of the postal highway that connects the ICP is very narrow.

“We have given priority to expanding the infrastructure besides speeding up acquisition of land between the ICP and the dry port,” said Bhandari, who was newly appointed to the position.

Meanwhile, the Nepal Intermodal Transport Development Board (NITDB), a separate authority to look after ICP operation, said it had allocated Rs250 million this year for the construction of related infrastructure at the ICP.

The money will be used to build a warehouse, check-in counter, parking yard, quarantine check, dormitory unit, security check and other logistics rooms.

Hemendra Mohan Shahi, the NITDB chief at the ICP, said the board had set aside Rs50 million to construct a 3,000-tonne capacity warehouse and a customs check point. At present, the ICP has only two warehouses spread over 1,374 square metres. Each warehouse can hold six containers of cargo.

Likewise, the board has allocated Rs48 million for upgrading the quarantine structure and dormitory. The structure for logistics management will be constructed with Rs9.5 million while Rs9.8 million will be spent for constructing the office of entry point and security concern.

The ICP, built with financial assistance of the Indian government, came into operation on April 7. An agreement to establish the facility was signed by India and Nepal in 2005 while the foundation for the buildings was laid on 2010.

The ICP straddles the Nepal-India border, and occupies 116 bighas on Nepali territory and 100 bighas on Indian territory. It houses customs, immigration and border security personnel of the Armed Police Force.

Published: 2018-09-08 08:34:43