BIRGUNJ, March 9: It has been revealed that container handling agents (CHAs), who represent Nepali importers at Kolkata port, are involved in fraudulent activities.
Stating that a large number of CHAs are involved in such activities, the Consulate General of Nepal in Kolkata has requested importers to sever ties with CHAs who are involved in wrongdoing.
“It has already been proved that CHAs have been forging government documents,” Nepali Consular General in Kolkata Ek Narayan Aryal said in a meeting with traders and importers in Birgunj. “If you file formal complaint, the consulate will request the Indian police to bring such agents to book,” he added.
Aryal also said that the consulate was doing the needful to control levying of unnecessary charges on Nepali importers by CHAs and shipping companies. “As per the agreement between Nepal and India, importers do not have to pay any tax at the port. You all should be aware of this fact,” he told traders and importers. “Earlier, shipping companies, in collusion with CHAs, were collecting 4 percent tax from importers. It has been stopped now.”
Stating that there were various problems in handling cargoes at the Kolkata port, he said that it was high time Nepal looked for alternatives. “The consulate is studying the pros and cons of using Visakhapatnam port for third-country trade. We will also study other ports if Vizag port is not suitable for Nepal,” he added.
Speaking at the meeting, Gopal Kedia, senior vice-president of Birgunj Chamber of Commerce and Industries, said importers should prioritize shipping companies that received empty containers at the Birgunj dry port.
Earlier on February 27, Kedia had traveled all the way to Kolkata to submit a 16-point memorandum to the Nepali consulate on behalf of the chamber. Aryal is in Birgunj to discuss on the memorandum submitted by the chamber.
Surya Sedhai, senior custom officer of the Dry Port Custom Office, Birgunj, said copies of documents of the consignment should be forwarded to the customs office as soon as the consignment is cleared from the Kolkata port. “It will make the customs clearance process faster,” he added.
Similarly, Bishnu Kanta Chaudhary, CEO of Himalayan Terminals, said the old Kolkata port and the dry port at Sirsiya, Birgunj have already reached the saturation point.