Nepali traders urged to use HICT for int’l shipments

Kathmandu, December 11

JM Baxi Group, operator of the Haldia International Container Terminal (HICT), has urged Nepali importers to use HICT for Nepal bound container shipments citing that the container terminal based in Haldia now has sound infrastructure and delivers better services compared to Kolkata port that Nepali importers are currently using.

Kolkata Port Trust, which had been operating HICT besides Kolkata dry port, had awarded the operation and maintenance contract of HICT to JM Baxi Group in mid-April 2015.

Speaking at a press conference in the Capital today, Manoj Arora, president of JM Baxi Group, said that Nepal’s trade volume is growing every day and it demands more services from container stations. “HICT is a viable option for Nepali importers who have been using Kolkata port for a majority of their shipments,” said Arora, adding that HICT is ready to connect Nepal’s trade through both railways and roadways.

Arora further assured that Nepal’s containers would not be held back at HICT because of any constraints related to infrastructure and capacity. “Though HICT is 100 kilometres more in distance for Nepali importers and exporters compared to Kolkata Port, we deliver better service regarding cargo handling and shipments which is beneficial to traders.”

While Kolkata port lies at a distance of 704 kilometres from Nepal’s only rail-linked Inland Clearance Depot, Birgunj, HICT is 804 kilometres away from Birgunj.

Speaking on the occasion, Tapan Sengupta, marketing head-East, HICT, informed that HICT has not received any container damage cargo claim in the last one-and-a-half years of its operation as HICT is committed to taking ownership of all cargoes. “Similarly, we assure traders that vessel schedule (arrival and departure) is highly maintained at HICT,” he said.

Dinesh Shrestha, vice-president of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI), said that Nepali traders will use HICT for cargo shipments if services are comparatively better even if traders have to bear a slightly higher cost. “We now have the new Vizag port as an option to Kolkata port and competition is ever increasing. Nepali traders will choose to go where services are good and cost is effective,” said Shrestha.

Meanwhile, Rajan Sharma, former president of Nepal Freight Forwarders’ Association, said that costs, cargo shipment procedures, time and distance factors, among others are key to attract traders to any port and container terminal. “Though traders can enjoy the benefit of less congestion at HICT, manual procedures at HICT is discouraging traders from using its facility,” he said. Also the chairperson of Road Transport and Transit Committee of FNCCI, Sharma urged HICT officials to start automated operations and accept documents through electronic mails.