Due to a drastic decrease in transportation fare along the Lhasa-Kathmandu route, Chinese goods are becoming cheaper. The Lhasa-Kathmandu route includes the world's longest downhill run--a drop of 4200m in just over 160kms of heart-stopping descent Tibet is still one of the most remote regions in the world and any visit will be an adventure.
Rajan Thapaliya's is a case in point. A few months ago, he used to pay the trucker up to Rs. 250,000 for each truckload of goods imported to Kathmandu from Lhasa in Tibet. On Wednesday, however, a truckload of goods cost him just Rs. 35,000 in transport fare. Thapaliya's imported blanket costs Rs. 1,800 instead of Rs. 2000.
Truckers have been competing to transport goods at the lowest possible rate after the Chinese administration decided to allow more Nepali containers to enter its territory a month ago, Hari Dahal, General Secretary of the Nepal Truck Container Professionals' Organisation, says.
“We began importing goods via the sea route as the fare through the Tatopani route rose to a staggering Rs. 300,000 per container,” said General Secretary of the Nepal Trans-Himalayan Commerce Association Keshav Rayamajhi.
According to him, around 60 percent of Chinese goods needed for the summer are being imported through the sea routes. “It costs around Rs. 200,000 to bring in a container full of goods by sea,” says Rayamajhi.
Earlier, truckers and importers fixed Rs. 60,000 as the fare for transportation of each truckload of goods from Khasa to Kathmandu, but the NTCPO could not enforce the same, importers complained. High transportation cost has always been a bone of contention between truckers and importers.
Rayamajhi says the price of Chinese goods may go down by 10-15 percent if the fare remains steady for sometime.
Officials at the Tatopani Customs Office, however, claim that their measures, aimed at controlling smuggling, have paid off. “Earlier, truckers used to charge exorbitant fares for transportation of smuggled goods,” according to Chudamani Devkota, Chief of the Tatopani Customs Office.
He says the fare has gone down also because transporters have relaxed their turn-based transportation system.
According to Krishna Gaire, an importer of readymade garments, the fare decreased also due to decline in demand for garments, which is quite normal during off-season.