Biratnagar customs opens ‘unfinished’ check post facility

- RAJESH KHANAL, Kathmandu

Oct 30, 2018-

The Customs Department has allowed containers to pass through the Integrated Check Post (ICP) in Biratnagar even though it is still under construction. The department said a high volume of cargo traffic at the eastern border point was leading to massive congestion, prompting them to open the unfinished ICP.

It said that more than 60 percent of the ICP had been completed. Biratnagar ICP is the second such facility after

Birgunj built on the Nepal-India border to facilitate trade. Biratnagar ICP is being constructed with an Indian grant, and is scheduled to come online by December-end. The construction work on the Indian side of the border is almost complete. Toyam Raya, director general of the department, said they had allowed temporary use of Biratnagar ICP due to an increase in heavy vehicular movement at the eastern border point. “The department has allowed the import of bulk cargo like cement clinker, iron and petroleum products through the facility. Empty containers being returned from Nepal have also been permitted to use the ICP.”

According to Raya, Biratnagar ICP will be connected by railway to Kolkata Port. “The Indian side has informed us that they have almost finished the construction of the infrastructure,” Raya said. The ICP houses immigration, customs and border security offices, quarantine facility, currency exchange counter, internet service and cafeteria. Dineshchandra R Agrawal Infracon of India is building Biratnagar ICP. The company started construction two years ago.

In December 2016, the government allotted 169 bighas of land for the construction of the ICP. The project is being built with an estimated budget of Rs2.1 billion provided by the Indian government.Nepal and India signed an accord in 2005 to build ICPs straddling the border at Biratnagar, Birgunj, Bhairahawa and Nepalgunj. Under the agreement, there will be matching complexes on both sides of the border. Currently, only the ICP in Birgunj has come into full operation.

Launched six months ago, Birgunj ICP handles more than 70 percent of the cargo passing through Birgunj Customs, according to the Nepal Intermodal Transport Development Board. Although the ICP was expected to eliminate traffic congestion by providing easy and quick customs clearance, service has not been optimised due to inadequate facilities.

A narrow road connects the ICP which is not large enough to handle cargo movement. The board said it had started widening the 700-metre-long road linking Birgunj ICP with the dry port in Sirsiya. The Ministry of Finance has released Rs920 million for the project.

Published: 30-10-2018 07:36

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