May 30, 2019 02:00 AM NPT
The Tatopani border point, which remained closed for four years following the devastating earthquakes of April 2015, has been resumed amid a special function on Wednesday. The major transit point between Nepal and China was reopened by Minister for Industry Commerce and Supplies Matrika Yadav jointly with top Chinese officials including Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Hou Yanqi. Before closure in 2015, goods worth around Rs 22 billion used to be traded through the same point annually. Resumption of this transit has come as good news not only for a certain section but also the entire business community and the general public. It has always remained as an important bilateral trading point between Nepal and China and its importance and necessity were realized more pertinently during Indian blockade in 2015. During the blockade, the crisis in Nepal has compounded also because of the closure of Tatopani border point. The general public, as well as the business community who used to trade goods to and from the northern neighbor, had been frustrated as it took years to reopen the transit point. The resumption of the border has now encouraged one and all.
Bringing Tatopani, Rasuwagadhi and other border points along the northern border into smooth operation has become imperative as bilateral trade with China is increasing yearly. Nepal and China officials signed the protocol on implementation of the bilateral transit and transport agreement in the presence of heads of state of the two countries during the China visit of President Bidya Devi Bhandari in April. As Nepal and China have made significant progress in policy level toward laying ground for expanding bilateral trade, it has now time to expedite the work on the field to realize the goals envisioned in the policies. Bilateral trade can be expanded between the two countries only by operating multiple and alternative border points in a regular and reliable way round the year.
There are challenges in bringing the border point in full-fledged operation as Araniko Highway that connects Tatopani with the capital city Kathmandu falls in the landslide prone area. Natural disasters like landslides and floods repeatedly damage the roads disrupting vehicular movement along the section. So, the government needs to work a lot to upgrade the road condition and improve other infrastructure in the border point so as to ensure that the trade and transport through this point isn’t repeatedly disrupted due to minor problems. The narrow roads along Araniko Highway must be widened and upgraded to ensure smooth movement of heavy as well as other vehicles. The authorities from both the sides also need to allay some concerns about the fear of illegal activities that may take place in the area and they need to work together to ensure that no untoward incidents take place there.