April 2: Production in almost all the industries in the Bara-Parsa industrial corridor have been shut down because of the absence of workers and halt in transportation due to the lockdown to prevent the coronavirus infection.
Many industries could not bring the raw materials stuck at the border. Even industries that have stored raw materials could not continue production due to the absence of workers and halt in transportation. The pharmaceutical industries are open. However, other industries for emergency supplies are producing minimum quantities.
According to Subodh Kumar Gupta, president, Association of Nepalese Rice, Oil and Pulses Industry, the lockdown has affected the production of staple food as well. “We cannot transport even 20 percent of the production,” Gupta said. He estimated that around 3,000 food industries have been affected nationwide. Among them, 2,000 are rice industries.
“The production of construction materials has also been halted because of lack of workers and transportation. Due to lack of transportation, we cannot send the orders to our customers,” said industrialist Rajesh Kyal. The corridor has around 1,000 factories producing food supplies, animal feeds, medicines and packaging.
The local administration has said that passes will be provided to the emergency industries. For this, a particular time has been set. According to Lalit Kumar Basnet, assistant district officer of Parsa, the workers need to reach the factory before 9 am and can leave the factory only after 6 pm.
Local security entity and industrialists had agreed to allow movement at the specific time. While motorcycles are allowed for commuting, other vehicles are not allowed. However, many workers have not been going to work due to the fear of coronavirus.
Because of limitation on timing, it is difficult to bring raw materials from the border, said Ashok Kumar Vaid, vice-president of Nepal Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Province 2. “Vehicles entering the factory at 9 am have to wait till 6 pm to leave the place,” said Vaid.
Gupta said that not only has the transportation been affected, but the materials which need to be sent outside Birgunj are also stuck at the border. As the supplies are stuck at the border, Birgunj customs office had issued a notice requesting the importer to do the custom clearance. Now, the frequency of trucks have increased comparatively.
However, the lockdown in India has decreased the import from roadways, said Dhundi Prashad Niraula. Previously, on an average day, around 600-700 vehicles used to enter the border, but only 37 vehicles entered on Monday. Meanwhile, cargo transportation via train has increased. Currently, 2,200 containers filled with supply and 400 empty containers are stockpiled at Birgunj dry port.