KATHMANDU, Aug 6: Authorities of Kolkata and Vishakapatnam, which is also known as Vizag, ports of India have expressed commitment to simplify the clearing process of Nepal-bound cargos.
Though India has designated Vizag port for Nepal's third-country trade, Nepali traders are yet to trade through the port located in the east coast of India.
Speaking at an interaction among stakeholders in Kathmandu on Friday, port authorities requested Nepali traders to compile hurdles that they are facing at the port and recommend measures to simplify procedural hassles. “We are committed to facilitate your trade through India,” Gautam Gupta, Traffic Manager of Kolkata Port Trust, said. “We request you to suggest us measures to simplify shipment and clearance of Nepal-bound containers from both Kolkata as well as Haldia ports.”
Gupta further informed that that were revamping the Kolkata port and the railway connected to it from September. “Nepali traders will get more benefits once the railway service from the Kolkata port is improved and existing infrastructures are upgraded,” added Gupta.
Sushil Mulchandani, CEO of Visakhapatnam Port, said that they were keen to receive Nepal-bound containers. “Everything has been finalized and the Container Corporation of India has already declared the tariff. We are all prepared to receive Nepal-bound containers,” Mulchandani said, adding: “I think that Nepal should open its consulate office at Vizag as soon as possible and begin third country trade through the port.”
Stating that the Vizag port is well-equipped and competitive, he said Nepali traders can benefit a lot wile trading through the port. “We are strong in terms of infrastructure and other services. We have been giving best vessel management services,” Mulchandani said, adding that the Vizag port can receive larger vessels and has capacity to handle 0.7 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Unit (TEUs).
Speaking at the program, Chief Secretary Som Lal Subedi said that Nepali stakeholders should come up with a common stance regarding transit facilitation and utilization of the Vizag port. Urging port authorities to simplify the problems faced by Nepali traders, Subedi said: “Minimizing cost of trade is fundamental for development, especially for countries like Nepal, which depends heavily with third countries for industrial raw materials.”
Nepali freight forwarders said that availability of Vizag port gives an alternative to traders. They, however, called on the need to go for cost analysis before utilizing the port. “The transport cost from Vizag port to Birgunj is very high. The Container Corporation of India has to justify the cost,” Rajan Sharma, immediate past president of Freight Forwarders Association of Nepal, said. Sharma also said that amendments have to be made to the existing Railway Service Agreement (RSA) between Nepal and India as some provisions hindering Nepal's third country trade through Vizag port.
Similarly, Laxman Bahadur Basnet, executive director of Nepal Intermodal Transport Development Board (NITDB), said that stakeholders should focus on time and cost minimization at both the ports.