The newly-built customs point at Tatopani in Sindhupalchowk district adjoining the Chinese border. Photo: Republica
SINDHUPALCHOWK, April 28: The government has expedited preparations to bring back into operation the Tatopani border point between Nepal and China that remains closed for the last four years following the devastating earthquake of 2015 in May. According to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the border point is going to be reopened as soon as the dry port at Larcha, Tatopani, is handed over to the Nepal government. The port being constructed with the support of the Chinese government is scheduled to be handed over to Nepal on May 20.
“The ministry is set to resume the border point. Internal preparations have been expedited,” said Nawaraj Dhakal, spokesperson and joint sectary of the ministry. “No sooner the dry port is handed over, than the border point will be resumed. We have been informed that the port will be handed over on May 20,” he added.
According to reports, the construction work of the port has completed and it is now getting the final touch. The need of a dry port at the Tatopani border point was always felt in the country but the economic blockade imposed on Nepal by India soon after the devastating earthquake of 2015 intensely reinforced the need. Apart of working on road connectivity to China since then, the government had prioritized the dry port as well. The government is building another dry port at Chobhar of Kathmandu while the construction work of this one at Larcha had begun six years ago.
“The two governments had agreed to open the border point right after the handing over of the dry port. During high level meetings, Chinese officials have also stated several times that the border point will be resumed before May,” said Dhakal adding that there is no need to make a new deal to resume the border point.
He further stated that all stakeholders - food suppliers, animal quarantine department and the security forces have already been directed to get ready to get back to the border point.
“The custom process will begin right at the dry port; we have directed everyone concerned for this. On the other hand, the Anraiko Highway is also being upgraded,” said Dhakal.
The construction of the dry port at Larcha had come to a halt after the earthquake when only 60 percent of the work had been completed. It took three years for the project to resume. “Just last year, the work resumed and it is about to get completed now,” said Dhakal.
Chinese company, Beijing Real Estate, which has taken the responsibility of the construction, reports that 95 per cent of the project has been completed. A motorable bridge over the Bhotekoshi River that connects the port and the highway has already been built. Fixing of water, electricity facilities and the final painting work is now underway at the port.
The Chinese government began the construction of the international-level dry port with a budget of around Rs 1.2 billion in 2012. According to Dhakal, there will be not only a customs office and go-downs to store goods at the dry port but also residential quarters for officers and staffers of several departments.
All types of ultra modern equipment and services for goods import are expected to be available at the dry port.