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Bicycle commuters finding hard to make living as border restrictions continue


By Sher Bahadur Singh, MAHENDRANAGAR:- Rupa Chaudhary of Bedkot municipality in Kanchanpur would ferry goods on her bicycle from the Indian market along the Nepal-India border to the Mahendranagar Bazaar to earn a living.
Chaudhary used to bring over 100 quintals of daily consumer goods on a bicycle from Banbasa to make a living. She had been in this work for around eight years.
But her source of income stopped with the occurrence of a global crisis caused by the coronavirus in last March. The government had closed the border points to control the spread of the virus.
”This coronavirus has proved a curse to the poor as it has added to our hardships,” she lamented.
As she said, her spouse also was forced out of work during the nationwide lockdown against the virus. Locals here hoped for better days with the life getting back to normalcy since the past few months.
But contrary to their expectation, the transit point is yet to come into full operation. Despite the government decision to resume all transit points here, the local government continues to cause hurdles for the cross-border movements, preventing people like Chaudhary from resuming their works.
”We are believed to have been the spreader of the virus if we visit Banbasa to bring goods,” Chaudhary said.
More than 100 women of poor community like Chaudhary, who have been importing goods of businessmen of Mahendranagar from Banbasa, the bordering Indian market, are now in distress.
Though around one dozen of orgaisations, including Kanchanpur Chamber of Commerce and Industry, asked the local administration to ease the movement via Gaddachauki, but in vain.
Bishna Nepali of Bhimdutta municipality-18 said, “We are compelled to stay in house without any work as we have no investment to start other business.”
Deputy Mayor of Bhimdutta municipality, Sushila Chand Singh, expressed sadness over not making the movement at border point easy by local administration at a time when movement at other check points across the nation has been made easier.
Singh added that they have been asking the local administration time and again to make the movement at border point easy but no one understood the pain of traders from the poor community, who are making a living by importing goods from India on bicycles.
Chairperson of KCCI, Janga Bahadur Malla, shared that the local administration has not taken any initiative to open border.
He added, “People moving via Indian border have been facing problems at border due to cumbersome process.
Civil society leaders have demanded easy operation of transits as citizens of both the countries share same social, economic and cultural relations. Hotel entrepreneurs have gotten their business affected as a result of failure to operate Gaddachauki transit smoothly, said Jagadish Chandra Bhatta, President of the Hotel Entrepreneur Association, Kanchanpur. “Nepal is a nearest and safe tourist destination for those Indian people who have been confined to home for long due to Covid-19. However, there is not an easy access to Nepal for them,” he said.
There have been difficulties at transits for citizens of both the countries as the local administration has failed to make arrangements, said Dambar Datta Panta, President of Mahakali Transportation Pvt. Ltd. RSS

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