December 8: The strategic Mirganj Bridge, which lies four kilometers inside India from the Jogbani-Biratnagar border point in eastern Nepal, has come into operation after 11 months of closure.
The new motorable bridge, built after the collapse of the old bridge, has been opened for public use. The operation of this strategic bridge – from the point of view of trade – has shortened the distance for vehicles carrying materials and other goods to the Biratnagar customs by 116 kilometers. This is expected to save both the time and money of the traders.
Until the bridge was operational, the transport vehicles entering Nepal through Jogbani checkpoint had to take a detour through the Bhantabari checkpoint in Sunsari.
Before this bridge was opened, an average of 68 cargo vehicles had been entering Nepal on a daily basis. On Wednesday, a total of 168 vehicles entered Nepal through the Nepal-India Integrated Checkpoint (ICP) at Jogbani in India and Rani in Nepal. According to the traders, the transportation cost of one truck/container is Rs 16,000.
Ramchandra Dhungana, information officer of Biratnagar Customs Office, confirmed that freight vehicles have started arriving from the integrated check post since Wednesday. Customs chief Tara Prasad Sapkota said that though the Mirganj Bridge is yet to be officially commissioned, freight vehicles are passing through the ICP, and their number has increased.
When the Mirganj Bridge was flooded, the revenue collection of the Biratnagar customs decreased by Rs 18.7 billion in 10 months. During this period, the traders have had to pay an additional transportation fee of around Rs 96.6 million in order to bring the goods through Sunsari's Bhantabari checkpoint.
Krishna Regmi, an industrialist, said that the cost of industrial production will be reduced with the reduction in transport fares after the Mirganj Bridge came into operation. He said that the transportation time will also be shortened.
Ratnakar Yadav, head of the Jogbani Office of Land Port Authority of India, said that since the Mirganj Bridge was ready and could be opened for cargo vehicles, traffic was allowed through the ICP from Tuesday night. He said that although there is still some work to be done on the bridge and flyovers, there will be no problem for the movement of cargo vehicles.
He informed more than 160 freight vehicles entered Nepal on Tuesday night.