The construction of the country’s first mini-dry port in Phuentsholing is complete and ready for use. It is one of the three components of South Asian Sub-region Economic Cooperation (SASEC) project with Phuentsholing thromde.

The construction began in April 2017, after 15 years of dialogues and land disputes.

Spanning 5.4 acres of land, the port is located near the second gate and connects the Northern Bypass, another SASEC project in Phuentsholing. The port would house more than 45 trucks and have customs clearance for imports and exports, and help decongest the country’s commercial hub.

SASEC project coordinator Devi Charan Dhimal said the dry port would dovetail the customs clearances for all import-export trade in the country entering through Phuentsholing.

“The primary objective is to decongest the central business district,” he said. “Heavy trucks ferrying goods from India to Bhutan would not need to go the existing customs office, which would mean less congestion.”

The mini-dry port would improve trade by encouraging one-window services, the project coordinator said, adding that the port would discourage tax pilferages and encourage efficient and sustainable tax collection system. It would also mainstream all tax collection procedures.

A Japanese company, Marushin Shitaka Construction Company limited designed and constructed the mini-dry port.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is funding 81 percent of the total budget as grant and the government funded the rest. In total, Nu 134.85 million (M) was invested.

Devi Charan Dhimal said the dry port would now be handed over to the department of trade with the economic affairs ministry. “They will further outsource it for operation,” he said, adding that the revenue and customs office would be the key player.

The mini-dry port has essential facilities that are lacking in the existing port at the customs office in Phuentsholing. A cold storage, weigh bridge, covered transshipment shed, a separate store to house risky goods, warehouse for seized goods, a store to house seized containers, transshipment shed for container goods, and export ware house are among the facilities at the dry port.

The dry port also has a shed house for drivers and public toilets.

Meanwhile, for the mini-dry port to have maximum impact of decongestion, the other SASEC component of NBR should also be completed. There are two packages under this project—development of a 2.7km four-lane road and construction of 120-metre curvy-linear bridge over the upstream of Omchhu.

Devi Charan Dhimal said about 50 percent of the road development package is complete, while 40 percent of the bridge construction is over.

The third component of SASEC project in Phuntsholing thromde is construction of a land customs station at Allay in Pasakha. The land developed for the construction has been handed over to the thromde and thromde would finalise the designs and cost estimates by next month, following which construction would begin.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing