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Cargo movements facing difficulties at Indian port lead to high trading cost Nepali trade says

The Nepal-bound containers that are shipped from the Kolkata Port, in India, have been facing a number of problems at the Indian port. Delay in clearance, lengthy documentation procedures and a lack of timely availability of rakes are the key problems identified by Nepali traders that has made trading costs significantly high.

The Kolkata Port receives around 400-600 Nepal-bound containers every week. Of these, only around 335 containers arrive at the Dry Port in Sirsiya, Birgunj. This delay in movement of Nepal-bound containers has been compelling importers to pay demurrage charges, which has pushed logistics costs.

V Kalyana Rama, the Chairman and Managing Director of Concor in an interview to the Kathmandu Post discusses the problem of the cargo movement at the Indian port.  Focusing on the more important aspects in the interview a few questions and answers are given below.

What are the major roadblocks on this trading route?

Infrastructure is perhaps one of the biggest roadblocks. Nepali traders and freight forwarders often complain that Concor is monopolising the entire business. And they think that if the private sector were to step into the market, many existing problems would disappear. But will it?

Concor is robust enough to provide more rakes and other related services. Our 22 rakes can easily pull off four trips per month. Currently, we have been able to conduct 44 trips, although our potential is 73 trips. If operators ask for more, we are ready to provide more. Traders in Nepal mainly go for arbitrage, thatís why there is delay in clearance from Birgunj ICD. These practices have to be streamlined properly, and then these problems could well be taken care of.

Why are you reluctant to increase infrastructural facility at HTPL in Birgunj ICD?

A single forklift at the Dry Port clears 80-90 containers at a time. But, an average of 30 containers gets stuck at ICD. If it is needed, we are ready to increase the number of forklifts operated by HTPL. A forklift comes at the cost of only IRs700,000-800,000. Increasing the number of forklifts is not a big deal.

Lastly, in your opinion, how can we solve the ongoing problem of cargo movement?

To solve this problem, we can invite officials from the Nepal Chamber of Commerce, prominent Nepali traders, freight forwarders and all other concerned authorities to sit and talk to solve the raging issues together. However, having said that, we cannot change the system, particularly firm systems such as the advance freight payment system. But we are ready to provide additional help, if concerned persons come up with concrete agendas.


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