September 12: The restriction imposed by the government on the import of vehicles has caused problems not only to the importers but also to the agencies invilved in trade facilitation.
More than 1,800 vehicles are currently stuck at Birgunj customs, the largest checkpoint in terms of the volume of vehicle import.
The vehicles are stopped at the Integrated Checkpoint (ICP) Customs at Birganj. Nepal Intermodal Transport Development Board, which operates the ICP, said that they are facing pressure to manage the parking area of the vehicles and also to ensure safety of the parked vehicles.
Due to the pressure to accommodate increasing number of vehicles, the board is planning to construct a parking lot with a capacity to park 300 more vehicles.
Kamal Gyawali, chief of the board, believes that the pressure to manage the vehicles at the ICP will ease after the construction of a new parking lot.
“The vehicles that have arrived here have not got customs clearance. The number of vehicles is increasing each day and it is becoming difficult to manage the ICP,” said Gyawali.
Preparations are underway to build a separate warehouse and parking lot at the ICP with support from the World Bank.
Under this plan, warehouse and parking will be prepared in an area of 40,000 square meters, the board said. For this, a team from the World Bank has already conducted an on-site study of the ICP.
In order to reduce the pressure on the foreign exchange reserves, the government had imposed a ban on import of some luxury items including vehicles for personal use. As a result, the cars have been piling up at the customs point after banks stopped credit investment for purchase of vehicles upon instruction from the government.
Even the vehicles that arrived at the customs point before the government imposed the restrictions have been held at the customs. As there is no demand for new vehicles in the market at present, the importers have not shown any interest in releasing the vehicles that arrived here before the ban was imposed.
Importers have to pay heavy parking fees at ICP. To reduce such expenses, they rented land in the bordering Indian city of Raxaul to store the vehicles.