Road disruption hits revenue collection at Rasuwahgadhi customs

Published On: August 30, 2018 08:29 AM NPT By: HIMNATH DEVKOTA

The customs office is likely to miss monthly revenue target

RASUWA, Aug 30: Revenue collection by Rasuwagadhi Customs Office has come to a grinding halt as recent floods and landslides have affected vehicular movement along the lone trade route between Nepal and China.

According to Gopal Koirala, the chief customs officer at Rasuwagadhi Customs Office, the office has not been able to collect even a penny for the past 21 days. 

The customs office, which had been collecting an average of Rs 40 million per day, is unlikely to meet its revenue target of Rs 900 million for the month of Bhadra (mid-August to mid-September) in the current fiscal year.

Movement of cargo vehicles has been affected for the past one month following damage to a bridge near the customs point caused rain-triggered floods on July 27. While the bridge has now been repaired, traders are worried at the sorry state of the road. The customs office has worn a deserted look since July 27. Similarly, the poor road condition has also affected the movement of tourists through this border point.  

The Rasuwagadhi route was becoming a popular entry point for visitors heading to Kailash-Mansarovar region of Tibet before the floods and landslides wreaked havoc on the road. Landslides and floods have caused damages in many places along the Dhunchhe-Rasuwagadhi stretch, resulting in losses of millions of rupees for traders. They say that they have to bear financial losses due to the delay in delivery of goods imported from China particularly in the eve of the festive season.

Perishable fruits and vegetables like pears, apple and garlic are rotting due to transportation delays. Sharada Parajuli, a proprietor of Swarnim Import Pvt Ltd, said that 90 percent of fruits that they have imported from China have rotten due to road disruption. “We have no option but to throw the rotten apple, pears and other fruits on the road,” he added.

While some small-scale importers have used porters to transport perishable goods, a large volume of such perishable products are still inside containers, traders like Prajauli say.

Hotel bookings made for Indian tourists heading toward Kailash-Mansarovar region of China are being canceled.  Hotels, which used to be full in this season, are wearing a deserted look due to disruption in vehicular traffic.

“Earlier, we used to get as many as 25 tourists in a day during this season,” Chhoten Sherpa, a local hotelier, said. “Now, tourists are canceling their bookings,” she added. 

According to Sherpa, six groups canceled bookings in her hotel in the past week. “It seems that there is not going to be much business in this place. We are thinking about shifting to Kathmandu,” she added.

Other hoteliers agree with Sherpa.

Landslides have affected the Syafru-Rasuwagadhi road section at nearly half a dozen places. The under-construction Rasuwagadhi Hydroelectricity Project at Timure is using its equipment to clear debris from the road and make it operable. But the project’s diesel stock is fast depleting. With new supplies not coming, the company says that its equipment can run for only two days.

“Although we have been clearing the road affected by landslides by utilizing our resources, it seems that our work will be affected due to the shortage of diesel,” Project Chief Chhabi Gaire told Republica.

Meanwhile, the Division Road Office, Nuwakot, has said that it would take at least 15 days for it to repair and reopen the road. 

Niraj Shakya, chief of the division, said that they were mobilizing more manpower and equipment to complete maintenance work as early as possible. “We are hiring 10 more workers in the affected areas and sending one more excavator,” he added.

Nepal Army and the division road office are working jointly to clear debris near Trishuli River.

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