Unrest hurts freight trade

Kathmandu, July 25:

Nepal Freight Forwarders’ Association (NEFFA), the national body of freight forwarders and logistic support providers, has expressed serious concerns ov-er problems related to land tra-nsportation due to rise political disturbances in the terai region.

Export of goods via land route has totally collapsed which has caused a huge loss to exporters as well as businessmen involved in freight forwarding business, stated NEFFA in a statement today.

The export sector of Nepal which contributes immensely to the national coffer with huge foreign exchange earnings has been hit hard over the past one year due to increased political disturbances in the terai region.

Regular blockades of highways leading to custom points have adversely affected exports greatly as more than 80 per cent exports from Nepal goes via land route. Due to this, even ‘check passed’ shipments are reaching Indo-Nepal border customs points at Birgunj, Biratnagar and Kakarvitta from Kathmandu more than a week late, adds NEFFA.

Moreover, exporters are facing problems of goods being sent up to Kolkata/Haldia as they are reaching these destination late and not in time to be booked for shipping lines.

This means Nepali goods are not given priority and not reac-hing final destinations on time. Due to high export growth in China and India, trans-shipme-nt ports in Singapore and Colo-mbo remain heavily loaded wi-th huge number of containers, which has resulted in for low priority for Nepali goods while passing through these ports.

Delay in accepting Nepali export shipments has cost businessmen a lot due to huge truck-detention-charge at Kolkata/Haldia ports. What is pathetic is that currently it takes more than 45 days to reach Nepali exports to Europe from Kathmandu, compared to the earlier 30 days, states NEFFA.

Shipping liners who operate ocean freight service from Kolkata/Haldia port to Europe-an base ports have already increased ocean freight rate as well as hiking other surcharges during every quarter. On the one hand, transportation cha-rge is increasing faster which comes to about 40 per cent. On the other hand, devaluation of US dollar has hit exporters and freight forwarders hard who are facing survival threats.

What is important is that the government and concerned authorities should take the matter seriously to resolve the problems faced by the Nepali business community and exporters and freight forwarders in particular, asserts NEFFA.

NEFFA has also asked the government to set up a taskforce to look into the matter seriously with an intervention from the concerned minister and concerned stakeholders.