Imported goods unlikely to arrive in time for Dashain

- Rishiram Poudyal, Tatopani

Sep 10, 2014-

Traders will have a hard time transporting their Chinese goods stuck at Khasa and Tatopani after a landslide cut off the Araniko Highway to Kathmandu in time for the Dashain festival.

The road to Tibet was further damaged on Sunday after the flooded Sunkoshi River breached the dam formed by landslide debris and overflowed its banks, making it impossible for vehicles to pass.

On August 2, a massive landslide swept over the highway burying a 1.5-km section at Jure, Sindhupalchok. The landslide also dammed the Sunkoshi River which inundated another few kilometres, forcing vehicular traffic to shut down.

“There is no way we can transport the goods imported for Dashain to Kathmandu,” said Bishnu Bahadur Khatri, senior vice-president of the Nepal Truck Containers Entrepreneurs’ Association. “Goods such as readymade garments, textiles, footwear and blankets worth Rs 4 billion have been stranded in Khasa.”

Traders said that they had been using porters to transport goods to some extent as it is not clear when the road will reopen. “Hiring porters adds Rs 3,000 per load to our import costs,” they said. A trader Ram Chandra Parajuli said they were undecided about hiring porters to transport their goods due to the high costs.

More than 1,000 Nepal-bound container trucks packed with goods for the Dashain festival are parked bumper to bumper on a stretch of highway in Khasa, China for the last 39 days as the road to Kathmandu remains cut off.

Warehouses in Khasa are overflowing with Chinese goods that Nepali traders have imported for the shopping spree that occurs during the country’s biggest festival.

Traders said that some goods in the containers parked at the Tatopani Customs yard had been damaged by rain. They have also complained of pilferage.

As Nepal-bound goods have been stranded along the road and in warehouses in Khasa, traders have been having a hard time finding safe places to store their goods.

There are around 200 containers at the Chinese parking area in Khasa. Around 80 containers have been stranded in the yard of the Tatopani Customs Office.

“Since the containers have been immobilized, the goods transported by porters will not be sufficient to meet demand during the Dashain festival,” said Kamal Kumar Shrestha, president of the Sindhupalchok Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “It will increase prices in the market.”

More than 80 percent of the goods imported from China for Dashain are brought over the Araniko Highway. According to traders, around 30-40 percent of the imports through this route take place during the first quarter of the fiscal year. Nepal imported goods worth Rs 19 billion in the last fiscal year through Tatopani customs.

The highway obstruction has also hit the government’s revenue collection target. Mimanshu Adhikari, chief of the Tatopani Customs Office, said that transactions during this time help the customs office to meet its annual revenue target.

The customs office expected to collect revenue amounting to Rs 22.7 million daily during this period.

Its revenue collection during the period mid-July to mid-September amounted to Rs 220 million, well short of its goal of Rs 930 million.

Of the revenue collected so far, Rs 161.1 million was collected during the last two weeks of July just before the landslide.

Published: 11-09-2014 09:41

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