The construction of storage sheds at Sirsiya Dry Port in Birgunj has still not been completed even though the completion deadline lapsed two years ago. The delay in completing the storage sheds has been causing storage difficulties at the dry port.
The contract to construct the storage shed was awarded to Pappu Construction in early 2015 with a completion deadline of one year. The deadline was subsequently extended twice. According to the dry port officials, the last deadline issued for the contractor to complete the project was in May 2018.
Pappu Construction received the contract to construct two storage sheds at Rs170 million. As of now, it has completed only 91 percent of works.
The building is being constructed under the investment of the World Bank to store goods like sugar, cements and chemical fertilisers among others.
Tarka Raj Joshi, an official of Nepal Intermodal Transport Development Board, said that Pappu Construction started construction in March 2015 but stopped works following the prolonged strikes in Tarai in August 2015.
As Pappu has not been able to complete the works despite being given extended deadlines, it has been paying a penalty worth 10 percent of the project cost to continue working on the project.
The project has already issued a warning notice to the contractor that the contract could be terminated if work is not ramped up.
According to Joshi, after the issuance of the warning notice, Pappu expedited the construction works but the insufficient number of workers mobilised at the site means that works will not progress at a faster pace.
With the construction of two new sheds, the dry port will have seven storage sheds altogether. Traders have been complaining that a lack of sheds has been creating difficulties in storing goods.
According to traders, they are often forced to store goods under the open skies which raise the risk of damage.
Similarly, chances of goods such as alcohol, furniture, electric equipments and industrials raw materials being damaged is less while importing through the railway rakes.
Most of the importers in Birgunj-Pathlaiya Industrial Corridor have been using the dry port. Goods are directly brought via railway to the dry port.
Traders prefer to use the railway to import goods as importing goods via cargo trucks from Kolkata in India carries a risk of the cargo being stolen. Importers also have to pay taxes for each Indian state that the cargo trucks pass through.
The country’s first dry port with railway service began operation in 2004 under a $802 million loan from the World Bank.
The port is connected with the railway network of India and goods imported from the third countries are directly transported from Kolkata, Haldia and Vishakhapatnam ports in India.
The dry port has a capacity to handle 1,005 containers daily. It has been handling 40,000 to 45,000 containers annually.