Cargo spends Dashain in Khasa depots

- Rishi Ram Paudyal, Chautara
Cargo spends Dashain in Khasa depots

Oct 8, 2014-

Traders had to leave their goods imported from China for the Dashain festival at Khasa as Araniko Highway remains cut off and the newly-built alternative route is barely usable. The highway linking Kathmandu with the Chinese border was severely damaged by a landslide and subsequent flooding more than a month ago, isolating the main entry point for Chinese imports.

Hundreds of containers packed with goods imported for the Dashain shopping spree are still stuck in warehouses and roads in Khasa and the Tatopani customs yard. Traders said that they had left behind 30 percent of their shipments in warehouses in Khasa.

“Even the goods that we managed to bring to Kathmandu arrived too late during the last hours of Dashain and sales were very small,” said Raj Kumar Basnet, treasurer of the Sindhupalchok Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“The goods could not be sent to places outside the Kathmandu valley.” He moaned that they would have to wait for next year’s Dashain to sell all the goods that have been brought or remain to be transported to Kathmandu.

On August 2, a massive landslide buried a section of the highway at Jure, Sindhupalchok. The landslide also dammed the Sunkoshi River and its waters inundated further stretches of the highway obstructing transportation on the key route for Nepal-China trade.

Desperate traders even hired porters to carry the goods on their backs, but the high costs made the method impractical. On September 16, an alternative road constructed by the traders and the army opened.

Shipments have been trickling into Kathmandu over this route, but for the traders, it was a case of too little too late. The main part of Dashain shopping had already ended, and sales were disappointing.

Clothes, summer jackets, footwear and sweaters are the main goods imported for the Dashain festival. Dayananda KC, a customs officer, said that they evaluate each container carrying footwear and garments at Rs 2.5 to Rs 3 million. Based on this calculation, goods worth more than Rs 1 billion are still stranded along the roads and in warehouses.

Raj Kumar Poudel, president of the Nepal Truck Containers Entrepreneurs’ Association, said that 300 containers of cargo were stored in warehouses in Khasa. He added that they were having a hard time repaying their bank loans as the expected boom in business during Dashain did not happen.

With the traders in a great hurry to bring their goods to Kathmandu, they have been paying triple the freight charges prevailing before the Dashain festival.

Although the Nepal Truck Container Entrepreneurs’ Association has fixed the freight for the Khasa-Kathmandu route at Rs 85,000 per container, the rate has swollen to as high as Rs 250,000.

Published: 09-10-2014 09:27

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