Railway containers that arrived at Bathnaha, India –– some five kilometers from Nepal-India bordering Indian town of Jogbani on Sunday. Photo: Republica
BIRATNAGAR, May 2: Container train service was used for the first time to bring Nepal's third-country consignments for eastern Nepal from Kolkata port of India.
A freighter train carrying 58 rakes arrived at Bathnaha, which lies five kilometer away from bordering Indian town of Jogbani, making Biratnagar second city in the country directly receiving containers from India's Kolkata port after Birgunj.
Before this, trucks were the only means of transport to carry third-country consignments to Nepal from Indian ports like Kolkata and Haldia. Traders say use of railway container will cut down their transport cost by up to 40 percent. This means third-country goods coming to Nepal will be cheaper.
The new facility became possible following the launch of a bilateral pilot project named 'Electronic Cargo Tracking System (ECTS)'.
Traders say the transportation cost will come down further after once the under-construction railway line connecting Bathnaha of Indian to Integrated Check Post (ICP) of Biratganar-18 comes into operation.
Abinash Bohra, a member of Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI), said that the transport costs will come down by 40 percent.
The cost to transport goods to Kolkata from Biratnagar is Rs 6 per kilometer. The new transport cost using railway will come around Rs 3.6 per kilometer.
Bohra also emphasized the need to expedite construction work of Biratnagar ICP as well as the railway line between Bathnaha and Katahari of Morang via the ICP.
Traders and industrialists of Province 1 also say that transport of goods via railway will be faster as well as safer and that they no longer have to worry about security of the consignments.
“Export and import via railway container will also help in trade promotion in entire province,” Rajendra Raut, FNCCI's vice president for Province 1, said.
Traders also say that the new transport facility ends unwanted hassles of paying different charges on the way while importing goods. Also, containers will no longer lie stranded on the way in case trucks break down.
“Similar arrangement will be made for import of goods via Bhairahawa and Rupaidiya trade in the near future,” Commerce Secretary Chandra Ghimire told Republica.