Sirsiya Dry Port in Birgunj saw record numbers for both import and export of goods last month. The port’s handling capacity has strained after third-country trade through India via Visakhapatnam started. This shows the urgency to expand the facility, which has been operational for 14 years.
The port has been facing problems in clearing containers because of strained handling facility at the country’s first dry port.
Debate has started to arise on the ability of the port to handle sharp growth in the future. Last month (mid-April to mid-May), 51 railway rakes arrived at the port from Kolkata and Visakhapatnam ports in India. These rakes hold 4,460 containers each. In addition, there were 27 rakes that arrived at the port from the third countries. Similarly, Nepal exported goods like noodles, beer, handicraft and carpets through 122 containers in the same month, according to the statistics of Himalayan Terminal that manages the dry port.
Since the trade embargo imposed by India in 2015, the port has seen a gradual rise in trade. “Trade activities has been increasing every month and is expected to go up even more,” said Bishnu Kant Chaudhary, CEO of the Himalayan Terminal. “The port is making record transaction of handing of cargo every passing month and it has strained the existing infrastructure.”
The problem is expected to occur in the future if the expansion of dry port does not happen on time. With the expansion of dry port, it is important to construct four railway tracks at the west side of the port, he added.
If more than 1,000 containers are stranded, it fills up the dry port. The clearance of goods is delayed in many occasions especially goods like construction materials that are regularly imported. Chaudhary said that the plan for construction of double-line railway track has been expedited. “We are hopeful that the double-line track from Motihari to Raxaul in India will be completed.” After improvement of infrastructure on the Indian side, it will ease trade traffic.
“Hence, it is necessary to expand the facility of the dry port,” he said. Since the last two and a half months, the integrated check post (ICP) in the south side of the port has started operations. According to Chaudhary, they have started the process to acquire 62 bigas of land that is situated in between the port and the (ICP). The land acquisition process will be completed by this fiscal year, he said. These two facilities will integrate after the land is acquired. If the ICP comes into full-fledged operation, it can handle 1,000 cargo containers daily.