KATHMANDU, Aug 10: Jhalakram Adhikari, the director general of the Department of Immigration (DoI), has announced a positive development in discussions with China concerning the issuance of entry permits for truck drivers heading to Kerung, China via the Rasuwagadhi border crossing.
Adhikari revealed this information during a meeting with representatives from the Independent Transport Workers' Association of Nepal (ITWAN), the Federation of Truck Transport Entrepreneurs, and Nepal Truck Container Dhuwani Limited. The meeting took place at the DoI office located in Kalikasthan, Kathmandu, on Wednesday.
"I held discussions with the Second Secretary of the Chinese Embassy in Nepal at the DoI on Wednesday to address this matter with Chinese customs authorities. The Chinese officials have shown a positive attitude towards resolving this issue, and we are optimistic about a prompt resolution," stated the Director General.
The Ministry of Home Affairs' Immigration Branch had previously issued a procedure in 2076 BS outlining the entry permit process for travel to China via the Rasuwagadhi crossing. The procedure included provisions for various types of entry permits, such as driver entry permits, worker entry permits, businessman entry permits, and one-day entry permits. Despite the existence of these provisions, truck drivers, co-drivers, and entrepreneurs have not yet received China entry permits.
In the absence of these permits, 966 truck container drivers had been driving their vehicles to Timure in Rasuwagadhi, a distance of 132 km from Kathmandu. From there, they had to seek drivers from Rasuwa district who possessed China entry permits, often paying Rs 15,000 to transport their vehicles the remaining 24 km to Kerung.
During both pre- and post-lockdown periods, multiple organizations including the District Administration Office Rasuwa, District Police Office Rasuwa, and Gosaikunda Rural Municipality, urged drivers to obtain the necessary pass. In a bid to address the issue, a memorandum was submitted to the DoI on July 19.
Bhimjwala Rai, President of ITWAN, expressed hope that the procedure enacted by the government in 2076 BS had successfully reached Chinese authorities and yielded a positive response. Rajendra Bikram Baniya, the General Secretary of the Nepal Truck Transport Business Federation, conveyed his optimism for an immediate resolution, viewing the problem as a national concern.
Arjun Bahadur Sapkota, President of Nepal Truck Container Dhuwani Limited, also expressed his optimism that the practice of entrusting vehicles to strangers and incurring excessive expenses for their transportation to Kerung would come to an end.
Durga Bahadur Shrestha, President of ITWAN’s truck unit, emphasized the importance of the government ensuring the physical safety of drivers while addressing the problem. He called for a joint discussion between border security officials of both countries to prevent mistreatment of citizens and administrative hurdles, thus contributing to the security of both nations.