INTERNATIONAL DESK: For the past eight years, all border crossings between Nepal and China have remained largely closed. This undeclared “blockade” by Beijing has left importers and businessmen in Nepal desperate, EPardafas reported.
The markets near the Chinese border became deserted, resulting in disappointment among the business community. Three years back, Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit to Nepal expressed his willingness to prioritize the development of a comprehensive communication network between the two nations, as per the EPardafas report.
Xi’s statement gathered enthusiasm among Nepali businessmen, who expressed hope for improved trade and economic opportunities. However, the closure of all border crossings of Nepal with China after the earthquake caused a crisis for not only significant businessmen but also small shopkeepers near the border.
Nepal shares a 1,414 km border with China, which comprises six checkpoints – Rasuwagadhi in Rasuwa, Tatopani in Sindhupalchowk, Hilsa in Humla, Korla in Mustang, Kimathanka in Sankhuwasabha, and Olangchungola in Taplejung, as per the EPardafas report. However, only Rasuwagadhi and Tatopani checkpoints are partially operational, according to the news report.
Tatopani, which used to be a bustling market, has remained quiet for eight years. Hom Bahadur Basnet, the President of the Sindhupalchowk Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that the border was closed and traffic was stopped by China after the earthquake.
Before the earthquake, the checkpoint was operational and domestic tourists used to come for hot baths, sightseeing, and buying inexpensive goods at the border market. However, all activities have come to a halt. Some professionals have left the region, while others have migrated to Kathmandu. Tatopani is considered as a crucial transit point connecting cities in China.
Hom Bahadur Basnet said that around 2000 truck drivers, co-drivers, and thousands of businessmen in Tatopani have lost their jobs due to the non-operation of the checkpoint. The business community has repeatedly requested the Chinese government to fully operationalize the border crossing in both directions by submitting memorandums.
Even though it was declared that the checkpoint would operate smoothly from May 1. However, the situation remains unchanged. The situation at Rasuwagadi mirrors that of Tatopani, EPardafas reported.
Rasuwa Industry and Commerce Association President Kesang Nirpu Tamang said that disruptions at the checkpoint have adversely affected the market and businesses in Rasuwagadi, EPardafas reported.
Tiptala in Taplejung is an important crossing point that affects the daily lives of local residents. Despite the lack of a road connection, locals used to transport goods from Chauri to China and import essentials like salt, rice, pulses, oil, and clothes. However, locals have been forced to buy at inflated prices due to the border closure caused by COVID-19.
Humla’s Hilsa has recently resumed operations after a closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Namgyal Lama, the president of the Humla Industry and Commerce Association, stressed that the closure of the crossing had far-reaching consequences, affecting the local community and businesses.
The North Tatopani border crossing was initially reported to have been fully reopened on May 1. However, the reality is that the border crossing has only been partially opened for exports. Dayadand KC, an officer at the Tatopani Customs Office, said that exports have almost come to a standstill, and imports are sporadic as well, as per the news report.
Earlier, the People of Nepal had a reliable source of income through the export of food grains, vegetables, and even medicinal herbs like Satuwa to Khasa. However, currently, Nepali traders can only bring things like apples, garlic, and clothes to the Miteri bridge from Khasa, with a daily capacity of 6-7 containers.
In the current financial year, the Tatopani Customs Office had set a target to collect revenue amounting to 4 billion 62 million Nepali rupees. However, as of now, they have been able to collect only 2 billion 20 million Nepali rupees, according to the news report.
Businessmen have reported that in the past, China’s imposition of the blockade caused the loss of millions of rupees. The Nepal Himalayan Cross Border Commerce Association has said that the goods bought from China are currently stuck in the border region, resulting in substantial financial losses for businessmen. (ANI)
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