KATHMANDU. A team from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is in Tatopani on the Nepal-China border in Sindhupalchok district to study the damaged trade infrastructure.
Twenty officials from the ministry are studying the physical infrastructure that will be needed to reopen the transit point devastated by the Gorkha Earthquake.
Chief District Officer Antar Bahadur Silwal said the team led by Joint Secretary Bal Krishna Panthi reached the town for a survey after the Chinese authorities responded positively to Nepal’s request for resuming cross-border trade.
“During border meetings, the Chinese authorities have assured us of opening the border,” said Silwal.
The team is studying about re-establishing the immigration office, banks and customs offices, among other facilities.
Commerce Minister Romi Gauchan Thakali also urged China to reopen the Tatopani border point. During a meeting with Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Yu Hong in Kathmandu on Friday, Minister Thakali stressed that the border crossing should be reopened at the earliest possible to enhance bilateral trade and connectivity. Responding to the request, Ambassador Hong said she would do the needful for the purpose.
On the Nepal side as well, Tatopani is coming to life after maintenance of the 26km Barhabise-Tatopani road from January. The road section was damaged by the 2015 quakes. Moreover, parts of it were washed away by the Bhotekoshi floods in July 2016.
After the road was opened, the locals are returning to the town. They have started rebuilding their homes and shops. Deputy Superintendent of Armed Police Bimal Dangi said they have heightened security after the Chinese authority suspected “Free Tibet” protests to be taking place near the border. Chinese officials had urged the Nepali authorities to step up security and surveillance at the border during meetings, he said.
On an average, the Tatopani Customs used to collect revenue amounting to Rs15 million daily–more than Rs5 billion annually. No cross-border trade is taking place via Tatopani at present.
Published: The Kathmandu Post, 05-02-2017 08:36