BIRGUNJ, Feb 13: Preparations are afoot to divert all cargoes coming from Raxaul-Birgunj route to Integrated Check Post (ICP) in Sirisiya of Parsa.
The ICP, was inaugurated some 22 months ago, is yet to start full-fledged operation. Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi had inaugurated the ICP in April 2018. Currently, the ICP is handling 60% of cargoes passing through Birgunj transit point.
India has decided to build a new access road to the ICP from the Indian side before starting its full-fledged operation, say officials of Birgunj Customs Office. Indian officials have communicated to Nepali authorities that they want to start full-fledged operation of the ICP from mid-March. The Nepali side is positive on the Indian proposal.
However, the two sides have not started any preparation for diverting passenger vehicles transiting through the customs point toward the ICP. Local stakeholders say the ICP will begin full-fledged operation in a true sense only after it facilitates movement of passenger.
Birgunj Customs Office, so far, has been handling cargoes at both Inarwa and ICP. Bimal Kumar Sah, the spokesperson for Birgunj Customs Office, said around 40% of cargoes is coming through Inarwa and the remaining through the ICP. "Movement of cargoes through the ICP is increasing with every passing year," he added.
Indian authorities held a meeting in December on why the ICP was not starting operation in a full-fledged manner. They concluded that it would be impossible to divert all cargoes toward the ICP without building a new access road. To address the issue, the meeting had decided to build a new access road.
Petroleum tankers and cargo trains coming from Raxaul enter Nepal through the Inarwa point. Over two dozen transport companies are also bringing goods via Inarwa point as there office and warehouse located near it.
Meanwhile, rehabilitation work on 750-meter road that connects Raxaul with ICP has achieved 80% physical progress.
"So far, we have not received formal information from Indian authorities about starting full-fledged operation of the ICP. We have received informal information though," Sah added.