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Construction activities at Larcha dry port resume

- ANISH TIWARI, SINDHUPALCHOK

Apr 9, 2018-

Construction activities at Larcha dry port have resumed, raising hopes that the Tatopani transit point on the Nepal-China border northeast of Kathmandu will be reopened. Tatopani was shut down due to extensive damage following the April 2015 earthquake.

The Chinese government has appointed Chinese Railway Construction Company (CRCC) to build the dry port at Larcha near Tatopani. The project is slated to be completed in eight months. CRCC has deployed seven excavators, 10 tippers and other equipment to expedite construction work, according to Raj Kumar Paudel, chairman of Bhote Koshi Rural Municipality.

Authorities and entrepreneurs said that this could be a signal that the Chinese government is considering reopening the Tatopani border point. Paudel said, “Resumption of construction work is a signal that the Chinese government will reopen the border point.”

The Chinese government began work to build a Rs1.2 billion international standard dry port in Larcha fiveyears ago. Although the construction was slated to be complete within two and a half years, it was stalled due to floods and landslides in Jure in August 2014 and the earthquake in April 2015.

The bridge over the Bhote Koshi that connecting the dry port was damaged by floods. Landslides in Jure also hit construction work. Work on the dry port was abandoned completely after the earthquake.

Head officer of the Tatopani Customs Office Krishna Basnet said, “The contracting company CRCC will construct and manage the road, bridges and other structures from Liping to the dry port, which is also part of Barhabise-Tatopani road.”  The company will also upgrade Kodari Highway in four months after completing construction of the dry port within eight months.  

The damaged structures are being repaired, and new ones are also being built. The main office, customs office and yard, storage, check pass yard, check post, bank and residential building are being repaired. According to the plan, the storage will be able to check pass and house 158 large containers. The equipment at the dry port will be able to weigh up to 100 tonnes of goods at once.

The Chinese government will also upgrade the road from Khasa to Friendship Bridge on the border. The bridge connects Tatopani in Sindhupalchok with Khasa in Tibet, China.

Arjun Sapkota, chairman of the Nepal Truck Container Entrepreneurs Association, said, “Security officials and workers have been directing their attention at Friendship Bridge.” Locals said that security officials had been deployed on the Chinese side of the border which used to deserted previously.

The border point has hardly seen any activity in the last three years as many families moved away and the Chinese government sealed the crossing due to ‘security challenges’. The market at the Tatopani border has been left in a ramshackle condition due to the earthquake, floods and landslides.

Nawa Raj Ghatani, a resident of Bhote Koshi Rural Municipality Tatopani Chaukidada, said, “No work has been done to restore the structures left in tatters except simple repairs. It is not possible to reopen the border point until the physical infrastructure is ready.”     

Locals are optimistic that the Chinese government has finally begin the much-needed construction work. Although the road near the border point has reopened after landslide debris was removed, no work has been done to remove the wreckage of houses up to Friendship Bridge. Although some families are said to have returned to Tatopani, various risks remain from Liping to Friendship Bridge.

Deputy Superintendent of Police Hajari Lal Jaiswal of the Armed Police Force (APF) said that two APF officers had been regularly deployed at the border. “If the physical infrastructure in this area is upgraded, life will become easier,” he added.

Published: 09-04-2018 09:21

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