Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has said that the dry port built in Chobhar, Kirtipur Municipality, Kathmandu will make Kathmandu Valley a hub of international trade. Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba officially inaugurated the port by opening a digital lock to allow three Birgunj-bound cargoes through its gates.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the dry port on the other day, PM Deuba said that the Kathmandu Valley would be developed as a hub of international trade when the service is launched. He said that this will help facilitating trade from the Kathmandu Valley and playing important role in reducing the cost of trade.
While expressing confidence that the dry port would play a significant role to make the import and export of goods and services more systematic and competitive, PM Deuba said that structures such as dry ports were needed to develop the country’s foreign trade in a sustainable and balanced manner. He also had also emphasized the need to focus on indigenous raw materials, labour and SIP-based products to reduce the growing trade deficit. He also made a remark that the government was ready to cooperate with the private sector to solve the problems in foreign trade.
The Chobhar dry port coming into operation is expected to reduce the traffic congestion at Inland Clearance Depot, Birgunj and other ICDs at the bordering towns as the containers can directly be ferried to Chobhar with the help of electronic cargo tracking system (ECTS) and the customs clearance process will be carried out at the Chobhar dry port.
The World Bank Group had provided financial assistance worth $22 million to the dry port. The dry port has an area of over 200 ropanis of land on the outskirts of Kathmandu. It is equipped with warehouses, parking lot, litigation shed, administrative buildings for customs, quarantine, banks and other required facilities for customs clearance. The dry port has the capacity to accommodate around 500 containers of 20-foot each, parking facility for 500 trucks, loading and unloading facilities, and six warehouses. It features three gates, with each exclusively slated for import, export and contingencies.
The World Bank and the government had inked an agreement in 2013 to build the dry port. However, the World Bank had almost dropped the project due to the delay in land ownership transfer of Himal Cement. The land ownership transfer process had taken almost three-and-a-half years.
Nepal Intermodal Transport Development Board (NITDB) – the government agency responsible for the construction and operation of dry ports and integrated check posts – had awarded the contract to an international bidder Aashish joint venture and local bidder Lumbini-Koshi and Neupane joint venture for the construction of the dry port in 2018. Then prime minister KP Sharma Oli laid the foundation stone of the dry port on January 17, 2019.
The construction of the dry port, was expected to complete within 18 months, but extensively delayed the COVID-19 pandemic and protests of the locals.