Goods trucks entering from India send jitters of COVID-19 among Jhapa folks

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Kathmandu - People here fear coronavirus infection might enter with the entry of goods trucks through the Kakadbhitta transit point despite the lockdown and sealing of the Nepal-India border. More than 150 trucks have entered from the Kakadbhitta transit point since the announcement of the lockdown and sealing of the Nepal-India border. These trucks are parked within the premises of the Mechi Customs Office and their drivers and helpers are said roaming the area without taking precautionary measures against COVID-19.

The drivers and helpers sleep inside their vehicles in the night and they roam around the area during the day with a majority of them not wearing face masks. They have brought a variety of goods including coal from various provinces of India. These people are not found living in quarantine amidst the fear of COVID-19 pandemic. The Mechi Customs Office chief Dhruba Bishwokarma acknowledged that 114 goods trucks had entered Nepal through Kakadbhitta transit on Tuesday alone. He said it is not known what consignment these trucks have brought and their destinations as all drivers have not yet submitted the consignment papers.

President of Mechi Customs Agents' Association, Mohan Niraula, said it is worrisome that so many Indian trucks have been allowed to enter on a single day at a time when there is high risk of coronavirus. He demanded that the vehicles already entered should be locked inside the customs office and their drivers and helpers put under quarantine for 14 days. Hotel Entrepreneurs Regional Association Mechinagar's president Ram Bahadur Tamang also objected to the entry of vehicles in high numbers through the transit point, expressing concern over entry of coronavirus infection.

On Monday, youths at Jyamirgadhi in Mechinagar municipality stopped three Indian number plated vehicles from entering their town and these vehicles were returned back to India with police escorting. The Mechi Customs Office chief Bishwokarma said they cannot stop the transit of goods unless there is order from the government. "There is no any directive yet from the higher level to stop the import and export of goods," he said. According to him, goods that were held up at Kolkata port for a month are being brought from there at present. Neither Nepal nor India can stop goods at the customs, he said, adding that disinfectant is sprayed on the vehicles after they entered Nepal and the body temperature of the drivers and their helpers taken. He stated that the vehicles carrying essential goods are allowed to go their destinations.

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National News Agency, Nepal

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