Export awaits Multi Modal Transportation Act

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, April 3:

Even though the government and business sector people have been talking about the introduction of Multi Modal Transportation Act (MMTA), to boost export through Inland Container Depot (ICD) at Birgunj for long, it has not been introduced yet. Absence of this act has hit the export sector hard, leading to huge losses to the national economy.

With a view to thrash out problems facing exporters and freight forwarders, Nepal Freight Forwarders Association (NEFFA) held a stakeholders’ meet today. Speaking at the function, freight forwarders and exporters have strongly urged the government to immediately bring MTA to resolve the problems of exporters and freight forwarders.

President of NEFFA, Namgyal Lama said that despite ICD being a crucial dry port for exporters and cargo handlers, it has not been able to support exports. “Export has been affected due to high transportation cost and continuous hassles,” said Lama.

Despite ICD operators talking about reducing transportation cost by 30 to 40 per cent once its operation commences, it has not been realised which has affected freight forwarders and government’s revenue generation badly, Lama said. “Taxes both in Indian and Nepali customs have been irritating even after ICD operations started,” said Lama.

He also revealed that while importing cargo from India, there had been cases of seal tempering at Raxaul entry point, which is worrying exporters.

Immediate past-president of NEFFA, Rabindra Man Singh opined that ICD is a big venture and difficult for operators to sustain financially without much business. There is even a bilateral problem in ICD operation, said Singh. He also expressed concerns about the lack of awareness among freight forwarders and exporters to increase exports through ICD Birgunj.

“Increased transportation cost has affected our business that has raised questions over our very survival,” said Singh at the meeting.

R B Rauniyar, director of Himalayan Terminal Private Ltd (HTPL), one of the operators of ICD Birgunj agreed that HTPL has focused so far on operation and not so much on marketing. He informed that ICD handled its first overseas export commercial break-bulk cargo in covered wagons of Indian Railway recently by sending 46,000 bags (2,300 tonnes) of sugar to Portugal.

So far, the ICD has handled over 70 containers of export cargo including 49 containers for the

Royal Nepal Army (RNA) working in UN Peacekeeping missions. From February 1, 2005 ICD is open to handle bilateral cargo between Nepal and India.