BIRGUNJ, Aug 4: Birgunj Dry Port, the only dry port of Nepal that connects Kolkata, Haldiya and Visakhapatnam ports of India through rail-line, resumed operation on Saturday after remaining shut for two days.
Mediated by Birgunj Customs Office, a meeting between clearing agents and the operator company on Friday decided to resume operation stating that the matter of dispute will be further discussed on Monday. However, the issues of fast service and additional equipment remain unresolved.
Revenue collection was affected due to shutdown of the dry port, according to Chief Customs Officer Bishnu Sharma. The dispute between the representatives of the clearing agent and Himalayan Terminals, the operator company of the port, had resulted in the shutdown of the port.
“We tried to resolve the problem from Thursday but there was no conclusion until the end of office hours on Friday,” Sharma said, “We had asked them to start operation first, and come up with solutions later after holding discussions.”
Agents say that the ineffective role of Intermodal Transport Development Board (NITDB), a government body regulating the dry port, had caused the dispute. “According to an agreement, there should be six reach stackers to transport containers. But the Himalayan Terminals has been using only four, of which, one does not function that delays the process, due to which fine is imposed in consignment,” said an agent, “There are other weaknesses and there is no body from the government to monitor them. Because of this, disputes keep popping.”
Bishnu Kanchary, CEO of Himalayan Terminals, claimed that the company has been trying to provide service according to the agreement. “Agents make their representatives do the job, we have created an environment to make their work easier. They don't transport the goods that have passed the customs. The problem has surfaced after being asked to pay the charge according to the rule,” he said, “There is no problem in the working system but in the usage, how should we let the vehicles pass after 10pm? We don't have the right, the agents have raised their concerns over these issues and stopped working.” He said that though they were ready to work from 8am till 12 noon, the rules have limited them.
Meanwhile, customs agents maintain that Himalayan terminals is working arbitrarily. “We need to return the containers after unloading them from yards within 5 days, for which it is not enough that the work be done from our side only. Himalayan Terminals should complete its work on time. It has insufficient equipment because of which the works progresses in a sluggish manner,” Pawan Gupta, an agent said,
“We have informed the company's CEO about the problem but this time the company negligently responded to us when confronted. Fellow agents have decided to go for strike.”