BUTWAL, Jan 29: Entrepreneurs have been suffering due to lack of Integrated Customs Check Post (ICP) at Bhairahawa, considered as the second largest customs point in Nepal. As a result, the entrepreneurs have been forced to bear various hassles along with additional fees.
As per the agreement reached between the Governments of Nepal and India in 2007, the target was to set up ICPs at Bhairahawa, Birgunj, Biratnagar and Nepalgunj. According to the Bhairahawa Customs Office, the work has not progressed despite the agreement between the Government of Nepal to provide land and the Indian side to build technical and infrastructure. As per the agreement, the check post has been completed in Birgunj, Biratnagar and is being constructed in Nepalgunj.
Chief Customs Officer at the Bhairahawa Customs Office, Gyanendra Raj Dhakal, said that the land required for the construction of the ICP has already been acquired from Nepal.
Necessary infrastructure including customs office, bank, livestock and agriculture quarantine and customs laboratory are constructed under the ICP. Structures of similar nature are set up on both sides.
Madhu Panthi, President of the Nepal Customs Agents' Association, said that the businesspersons who are importing and exporting goods through the Bhairahawa checkpoint are being attracted to other checkpoints as there is no ICP at the checkpoint. He said that despite all the preparations from the Nepali side, the Indian side had been delayed due to lack of diplomatic initiative.
The distance from Indian market Nautanwa-Sunauli to Belahiya is about seven kilometers. But it has been taking a long time for freight vehicles to cross that distance. There is not enough parking facility even at the Bhairahawa customs on the Nepal side where goods of millions of rupees are imported daily. Due to which freight vehicles have to stop on the road for weeks. When a vehicle taken for a certain period of time has to be stopped on the road for many days, the importer is obliged to pay additional fee including financial loss. This has made the import from the customs point expensive.
Entrepreneur Tan Bahadur Pandey said that Nepali importers have been paying extra for transportation as some trucks have to line up to 30 kilometers in Indian territory due to lack of parking.