January 11, 2020 09:07 AM NPT
By: Binod Subedi
Re-route permission only for materials imported from 3rd countries
BIRATNAGAR, Jan 11: The Mirjang bridge of Jogbani has been closed from Thursday as the Indian side has closed it for the second phase of maintenance.
According to Bhim Ghimire, Chairperson of Chamber of Industries Morang, the old steel structure bridge is closed from Thursday for 12 days for maintenance and the movement of vehicles has also been restricted. The daily business regarding import and export of goods from the Biratnagar border point has also been stopped due to the shutdown. According to Ghimire, India is ready to give permission for trucks which have products imported from third countries and re-route the trucks from the Bhimnagar border point of Sunsari but has denied re-route permission for products imported from India.
Around three years ago, the bridge was damaged by the flood and all the imported materials were brought from the Bhimnagar border point. At that time, India had given permission of re-route for all materials imported from third countries and India as well. Last year in mid-December the bridge was closed for 12 days and the Indian side had hesitated to give re-route permission from Sunsari.
Industrial entrepreneurs of Sunsari-Morang Industrial Corridor face problem time and again due to the closure of the bridge. Lack of raw materials affects the production of industries. According to Pawan Kumar Sarda, former chairperson of Morang Merchant Association, "the delivery of export products cannot be made on time which also affects international markets.” The trucks loaded with raw materials and other containers remain idle on the Nepali side of the bridge. According to Sarda, the imported materials will remain on the Nepali side of the bridge for longer period of time which will create problem for importers.
“Importers are paying thousands of Rupees on detention and damage charges as the truck and container are stopped for days,” said Sarda. He also demanded the re-route from Bhimnagar of Sunsari during the time of closure of Mirjang Bridge. “We are asking for permission from the government of both countries to import the materials easily in Nepal from the Bhimnagar border point,” said Sarda. The closure of the Biratnagar border point is also affecting collection of revenue for the government. According to Biratnagar Customs, Rs 150 million is collected on a daily basis as revenue from the Biratnagar border point.
Around 12 years ago, construction of another bridge near Mirjang Bridge was started but it has yet to be completed. Entrepreneurs have requested the government time and again to discuss the issue with the Indian government and work towards the completion of the new bridge.