BIRGUNJ, July 22: A recent decision of Indian Railways to extend load unload time at its Raxaul station has worried Nepali importers as such decision would mean additional fine for them.
Failure in collection of goods and items from railway stations within a certain timeframe results into fine for importers.
So far, the railway authority had been charging importers for using the godown only from 6 am to 10 pm. This means importers did not have to pay any fee for using godown between 10 pm to 6 am.
Importers, however, will not get the eight-hour waiver now onwards as the railway authority has decided to enforce the 24-hour rule.
Importers have nine hours to unload goods from wagon after the rail arrives in the station. Similarly, they get another 12 hours to transport goods from the godown. The railway authority slaps penalty in case importers fail to remove foods within the given timeframe.
Failure to unload goods within the stipulated time results into a fine of IRs 150 per hour for a wagon.
According to a letter of East Central Railway, Samastipur Division of Indian Railways, dated July 8, the railway godown will now be opened for 24 hours. As Nepal-India border remains closed from 11pm to 5 am, importers say opening of godown round the clock means the importers will have to pay charge for all the time which will increase their trading cost.
“Customs offices and border remains closed on both the sides between 11 pm to 5 am. Where would we get the laborers to load and unload goods at that time?” Ashok Kumar Baidya, former president of Birgunj Chamber of Commerce and Industry, wondered. “We suspect that the Indian side is creating hurdles one after another to disrupt the trading point.”
Importers say the new rule will increase their cost in Raxaul station by around one-third. The railway authority has introduced the new rule at a time when import of goods and commodities through the railway station is increasing.
Madhav Rajpal, an importer, said that they even do not get vehicles for transportation during nighttime. Among the three tracks being used for transportation of goods for Raxaul Railway Godown Yard, Track No. 9 has not been repaired for a long time. This has resulted to rise in traffic in other tracks. Importers were already incurring losses and facing inconveniences, and now they will have to face more costs, added Rajpal.
Raw materials for cement manufacturing and other products, coals, iron and food are the top items imported from this point.