Kathmandu / DPA
In a bid to shift away from heavy dependence on India, Nepal signed an agreement with China to use transit facilities for third country trade by using the ports of the northern neighbour. However, poor infrastructure on the Nepali side, difficult geographical terrain and without the reach of Chinese train up to Nepali border in Kerung (Gyirong in Chinese side) “the only trading point between Nepal and China at present”.
Seamless use of Chinese facilities could start in 2020 at the earliest, when the Chinese rail network is scheduled to reach Kerung, according to officials. Tatopani, another Nepal-China trading point, that has remained closed since the April 25 earthquake is yet to open, and there is no official confirmation from the Chinese side whether it will ever open it up.
According to Reuters, after a meeting between Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, Hou Yanqi, deputy head of the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Asia Division, described the rail connectivity as a “longer-term plan.”
During the meeting, PM Oli requested China to build three rail lines-one connecting three of Nepal’s most important cities, other crossing the border from China into Nepal, and a monorail in Kathmandu.