Number of cargo vehicles entering Nepal on the rise

Kathmandu, December 12

The flow of vehicles laden with essential goods, fuel and industrial raw materials from India to Nepal through most border points, where there aren’t any disturbances, was normal today except Sonauli-Bhairahawa. The major trade route — Raxaul-Birgunj — is still being blocked by the agitating Madhes-based political parties.

Birgunj, the lifeline for supply of fuel and other daily essentials to Nepal, has remained blocked since the last three months. Hence, this has resulted in acute shortage of all materials, including daily essentials.

According to data obtained from various customs points, Indian customs has started dispatching more number of trucks, containers and tankers as compared to the previous days. The flow of vehicles in Biratnagar was like in normal days, with over 200 vehicles dispatched to Nepal from Jogbani Customs Office of India.

According to Krishna Basnet, chief customs officer of Biratnagar Customs Office, the supply of fuel from India has started to increase since the last few days through that route. Reportedly, 23 tankers carrying diesel, nine carrying petrol and nine liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) bullets had crossed the border to Nepal by today evening.

According to Nepalgunj Customs Office, a total of 101 trucks, containers and fuel tankers entered Nepal from Rupedia today. Twenty-seven out of the 101 vehicles were fuel tankers.

Altogether 20 diesel tankers, four with aviation turbine fuel and three LPG bullets entered Nepal through the Nepalgunj border. Rajendra Hamal, chief customs officer at Nepalgunj Customs Office, informed that the supply situation today was like during the normal times. The Mechi Customs Office of Kakadvitta has also informed that 116 vehicles laden with cargoes were allowed entry into Nepal today. Eight out of the 116 vehicles were laden with third-country cargoes. No fuel tanker entered from Mechi Customs Point today. According to Bhim Adhikari, chief customs officer of Mechi Customs Office, Indian Oil Corporation’s Siliguri Depot dispatches fuel tankers from Monday through Thursday.

However, Bhairahawa Customs Office said that only 50 vehicles entered Nepal by today evening. “None of the fuel tankers were dispatched today,” said Keshab Oli, information officer at Bhairahawa Customs Office.

During normal times, over 350 vehicles used to enter Nepal every day from Sonauli Customs of India through Bhairahawa. Vehicles are being dispatched as per the discretion of Indian Customs officials, according to Oli.

It has been reported that the queue of cargo vehicles and fuel tankers waiting to enter Nepal has stretched to around 14 kilometres. The flow of vehicles from Bhairahawa — the second major entry point for goods and fuel coming to Nepal — continues to be erratic, as per Oli. “Sonauli Customs had dispatched 11 LPG bullets at 10:30pm on Friday.”

Even as the number of vehicles laden with daily essentials has started to increase, there is no certainty of regular flow of vehicles, as per customs chiefs of various customs points.

The Indian side started dispatching only a handful of trucks, containers and fuel tankers to Nepal after the promulgation of the new constitution ‘owing to the security concerns’ caused by the protest in the Tarai region of Nepal. The country has been facing short supply of essential goods due to the disruptions in supply lines and Nepal’s Foreign Minister Kamal Thapa has already visited India two times over the last three months in a bid to ease the supply situation from India to Nepal.

However, Madhes-based political parties have said that they will continue to block the border till the government addresses all of their demands.

The agitators have camped along the Raxaul-Birgunj border, but the other entry points to Nepal have remained peaceful.