Tuesday 27th July 2021

Unannounced Chinese blockade at Rasuwagadhi checkpoint, Nepali container halted since a year!


Published on : 8 February, 2021 4:37 pm

Kathmandu: The internal dispute of the Communist Party of Nepal (CPN) has created a political crisis in the country.

Meanwhile, in Kathmandu, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda have been blaming each other for the political crisis, while at the Rasuwagadhi Kerung checkpoint, neighboring China has imposed an unannounced blockade.

The drama seen at this checkpoint is almost like the blockade imposed by India in 2072 BS.

Due to the corona virus ‘Covid 19’, this checkpoint has been blocked for the last four months. The Chinese side has been banning the entry of Nepalese businessmen and cargo containers under the pretext of corona. At present, China allows only 5 containers of goods to Nepal daily and for the drop off also Chinese containers are used. Under normal circumstances in the past, about 70 containers used to go to China and also enter Nepal from China.

China’s arbitrariness, businessmen outraged:

Rasuwa businessmen staged a protest in Timure last Friday stating that there was no initiative from the Nepalese government to open the checkpoint. During the demonstration, they chanted slogans such as “Initiatives should be taken to facilitate trade with China, undeclared blockade should be lifted.” Suresh Thokra, a businessman from Rasuwa Kerung, said that they have been notifying the matter to concerned authorities since a long time, but as their voices got unheard they were forced to hold a protest.

He said that even though Nepalis were barred from coming to their own land under the pretext of Corona, Chinese citizens were moving around safely. He complained that even the vehicle that reached Kerung a year ago could not be brought due to the undeclared blockade of China at the checkpoint. He says that the banks have started auctioning the vehicles plying here due to China’s arbitrariness at the checkpoint.

Another businessman Surendra Khanal said that China’s is forcing its’ monopoly at the checkpoint. He also said that the Chinese police have been beating Nepalese citizens and closing the checkpoints immediately if they do not do as they say.

Stating that they are worried about their vehicles, he urged the government to take initiative to bring back the vehicles that have been stopped on the other side by the Chinese officials since a year. The local traders have demanded to make arrangements for easy movement saying that they are ready to follow all the safety protocols.

Entrepreneur Sonam Tangdi Tamang said that the price of freight has gone up due to China’s arbitrariness at the checkpoint.

Stating that they were not included in the meeting, he remarked that China was pretending not to listen.

Similarly, local Chhesam Tamang also said that the Chinese side has violated the agreement even though the Rasuwa residents have been allowed to travel up to 25 km. He said the undeclared blockade by China had made it very difficult for transporters, hotels, groceries and other businesses to make a living and are forced to flee.

Harsh Circumstances for labourers :

This arbitrary attitude of the Chinese side at the checkpoint has made it very difficult for not only the businessmen but also the labourers working there to earn a living.

Workers who have been doing load and unloading work at the checkpoint also say that they used to fight for work but now it is difficult to get work. As more than 600 workers used to work here previously but now only 35 workers and 16 drivers have got jobs .

At present, Chinese traders are bringing goods to the port and unloading them, while re-loading them from there to Nepal, and therefore the Nepalese side has been facing many problems due to lack of access.

Excessive rent hits consumers :

Up to 200 vehicles used to come through this checkpoint daily but now only 5 Chinese containers unload the goods at Rasuwagadhi .

The cost of transport of goods from Kerung to Kathmandu (124 km) used to cost NRs.110,000 per container , but now the fare of a Chinese container on the 24-kilometer road from Kerung to Rasuwagadhi only is more than 70,000 RMB, equivalent to Nepalese Rupess 900,000 . For the 90 kilometers from Rasuwagadhi to Kathmandu, Nepali containers charge 85,000 Rupees. One Chinese container is equivalent to two Nepalese containers.

When goods were imported directly from Kerung to Kathmandu, the possibility of damage was equally low as compared, but now the Nepali team can handle the goods only after the Chinese team arrives on the Nepali side and leaves the goods.

Checkpoint management committee says, ‘investment has been wasted’

Kamirupa Norvu Tamang, chairperson of Rasuwagadhi checkpoint management committee, said that the situation of businessmen has become critical due to China’s arbitrariness in the checkpoint which has been declared as an international checkpoint, the continued unannounced blockade imposed by China even after the arrival of corona vaccine was a big blow to the living standards of the businessmen.

Chairman Tamang said that in the past, goods were taken arbitrarily from Kerung to Rasuwagadhi bridge. He says the Chinese drama at the checkpoint has wasted investment in the sector. Stating that winter goods enter in summer and summer goods enter in winter, he said that the concerned bodies should pay attention as soon as possible.

“Regardless of numerous efforts , China has not opened the border” Ward Chairman

The people’s representatives here say that they have taken many initiatives to ease the checkpoint . Dawa Dorje Tamang, Ward Chairman of Gosainkunda Village Municipality-2 of Rasuwa, said that China refused to open the checkpoint no matter how much they tried. He said that despite of the compliance to all security measures, the checkpoints have not been eased.

Tamang says that they are ready to fulfill all the criteria to be adopted for the free operation of the checkpoint as before. The ward office has arranged quarantine for 35 workers and 17 drivers for unloading vehicles and goods coming from the checkpoint.

Why is the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister silent?

The whole world was affected by the corona virus ‘Covid 19’ which spread like a global epidemic and Nepal was not untouched by it. It is natural for the border to be sealed for some time due to the virus that started from China, but it is a shame that no one pays attention to the suffering of the workers and businessmen there for such a long time.

Moreover, ordinary Nepali consumers are suffering due to such high fares. It is not the Nepali businessmen who are charging more, it is the Chinese side who are charging hefty rent . The same problem exists also at the Tatopani checkpoint in Sindhupalchowk.

An unannounced blockade is being carried out at Rasuwagadhi, the northern border point, under Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, who managed to establish himself as the nationalist leader after the blockade imposed by India on the southern border. Foreign Minister Pradip Gyawali has also visited the region and Stakeholders and organizations have already submitted a letter to Foreign Minister Gyawali in this regard as well.

The price of Chinese goods has skyrocketed in the Nepali market as the Chinese side is exporting goods at exorbitant fares. But the government seems to be unaware of this.

Amidst inbound political turmoil when will  the government pay attention to the chaos of Kerung-Kathmandu border ?

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