First Nepal-bound cargo from India’s Vizag port flagged off

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Jun 26, 2016- A Nepal-bound cargo container was flagged off from India’s Visakhapatnam Port for the first time on Friday.

Chief Secretary Somlal Subedi, who lead a seven-member Nepali team to Visakhapatnam, and Chairman of Visakhapatnam Port Trust Chairman MT Krishna Babu jointly flagged off the container, according to The Hindu newspaper.

Rabi Sainju, joint secretary at the Commerce Ministry, said the cargo, however, was just a “symbolic move”.

A member of the Nepali team, requesting anonymity, said the event was held to just give a message to the private sector that the port is ready to open. “We are yet to complete some technical and procedural aspects to bring the route into full operation,” the official told the Post.

Nepal is dependent on Kolkata’s Halidya port for its entire third country trade through the sea.

India had agreed in principle to allow Nepal to use the Visakhapatnam port in 2009. However, it was only during Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s New Delhi visit in February the two countries signed a letter of exchange, allowing Nepal to use the port.

To support the movement of goods between Nepal and the port, the two countries also signed a separate Letter of Exchange on rail transport, enabling Nepal to transport goods through Indian railway.

Nepali importers have been complaining that they have to face prolonged traffic jams at the Kolkata port, so the opening of the Visakhapatnam port is expected to offer them an alternative.

According to Sainju, the government plans to put the Visakhapatnam port on the agenda of the Commerce Secretary-level Inter-governmental Committee (IGC) meeting scheduled to be held in New Delhi on June 28-29.

During an interaction with visiting Nepali officials, Babu said Visakhapatnam would be the ideal gateway port for exim cargo from Nepal and the port authority would provide all the facilities, according to the newspaper report.

Pointing out that Visakhapatnam had to wait for many years to be designated as the second gateway port for Nepal, Babu said the port had several advantages to the Kolkata-Haldia port. Although Nepal is at a longer distance from here, but its location, facilities, efficiency and quicker turnaround time make this port a natural choice, he said. “Visakhapatnam would offer competitive rates and the cargo would be moved in and out in a quicker time,” he said.

Subedi said termed the launch of the exim cargo from Visakhapatnam a “milestone”, stating this would help strengthen trade relations between the countries.

A deeper draft of 17 metres on the outer harbour of Visakhapatnam compared to just 7 metres at the Kolkata port would make it easy to handle bigger vessels with a distinct cost advantage, said Sushil Mulchandani, chief operating officer of the port.

He explained to the Nepali delegation that it would be beneficial for Nepal to use the cargo terminal in Visakhapatnam than the one in Kolkata.

The Nepal delegation interacted with the stakeholders, Concor, shipping liners, CFS handling agents and other agencies, according to the report. The officials wanted them to examine the areas of constraints such as freight charges, deployment of rakes, intermediaries and the logistics since better business would happen if the constraints were removed.



Published: 26-06-2016 09:39

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