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Nepal’s only ICP fails to operate at full capacity

- SHANKAR ACHARYA, PARSA

Apr 25, 2018-The country’s only integrated check post (ICP) in Birgunj, which formally started functioning earlier this month, has not been able to operate in full capacity due to delay in widening of a road that links it to the dry port in Sirsiya.

The ICP, built with the Indian government’s financial assistance, was inaugurated jointly by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi by pressing a button in New Delhi on April 7.

But since its inauguration, the check post in Birgunj, from where over 60 percent of Nepal’s imports enter the country, has been mainly used to bring in petroleum products from India.

Imports of petroleum products account for almost 95 percent of the goods worth around Rs730 million ferried into the country from the ICP since April 7, according to Santosh Yadav, information officer at the Birgunj Customs Office. Other goods such as blades, crude oil, pepper and other industrial raw materials were also imported from the ICP.

Many traders are not keen on using this cross-border point because of narrow road linking the ICP. “A truck carrying pepper fell off the road because of the narrow lane,” said Yadav. “So, cargo truck drivers fear travelling on this road.”

The government is planning to build a six-lane road to connect the ICP and the dry port in Sirsiya. The process of widening the 700-metre road formally began in the last week of March after the government started distributing compensation to landowners to acquire land.

The Department of Roads will acquire 25 metres of land on each side from the road’s centre line. For this, a total of 5.5 bighas of land needs to be acquired from 267 landowners. The compensation rate has been fixed at Rs6.16 million per kattha. As per this plan, the Ministry of Finance had released Rs900 million several weeks ago.

But works related to widening of the road has been moving ahead very slowly, which is preventing the ICP from operating in full capacity, according to officials of the Birgunj Customs Office.

The ICP is built on 165 acres of land. A total of 22 buildings, including offices of customs, immigration and border security personnel of Armed Police Force, and various other infrastructure, such as parking and goods inspection yards, meeting hall, warehouses, banks, health centre and coffee house have been built on 184,000 sq m of land.

These facilities, built at a cost of around IRs860 million, were expected to ease imports and exports of goods to and from Nepal. But since these objectives have not been met so far, Indian authorities have called a meeting to discuss ways to operate the ICP in full capacity.

“The meeting, scheduled for Wednesday, will be attended by customs officials of both the countries and other stakeholders,” said Yadav.

Published: 25-04-2018 09:22

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