More than 1,500 empty cargo containers are currently stranded at the dry port in Birgunj, at a time when containers for international trade in products are in short supply as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. As a result, the only dry port in the country that is used for foreign trade is experiencing a ‘container jam,’ according to officials. Some containers have been sitting at the dry port for more than a year and a half without being used.
The dry port, which has the capacity to handle as many as 1,500 containers at a time, has now been converted into a warehouse for both empty and loaded containers to store their contents. According to Pristine Valley Dry Port, the firm in charge of running the dry port in Birgunj, the cause for the overcrowding of empty containers is not due to carelessness, but rather to the containers that came during the lockdowns in the port. They claim that the problem has gotten worse since the Container Corporation of India (CCI) has shown no interest in reclaiming the obsolete shipping containers.
As many as 850 empty containers were sitting idle at the dry port before the firm assumed responsibility for its operation, according to B Mohan, executive director of the Pristine Group of Companies, the major partner in the company in charge of the dry port’s operation. “Himalaya Terminals was the dry port’s former operator,” says the company. “By August 6, 2020, over 850 empty containers had accumulated at the dry port throughout their term,” he stated. It is not the responsibility of the operating firm to clean up the mess.” Since lockdowns were imposed during the outbreak of COVID-19, it was extremely impossible to return the containers to their original locations. Following that, 360 additional empty containers accumulated at the dry port,” he continued. Because of the high volume of containers, Mohan explained, “the dry port has become a dangerous environment for the workers.”
According to customs clearing agents, the stack of empty containers stacked on top of one another has increased the amount of time it takes to remove the containers from the container yard. Due to the fact that the dry port does not charge any fees for the storage of empty containers, shipping companies have showed little interest in retrieving them. However, due to a scarcity of empty shipping containers around the world, several transport companies have expressed an interest in reclaiming them from their customers. When shipping a container of products from China to Nepal in the past, it may cost as much as US$4,000 to $6,000 per container. The price has now risen to USD 10,000 as a result of inflation.
As an additional point of information, Mohan informed Republica that the company is attempting to engage in communication with shipping companies as well as the Container Corporation of India. It is predicted that clearing out all of the empty containers will cost Rs 20 million.