The country’s first mini dry port in Phuentsholing was completed five months ago. But it is yet to start functioning.

The port, after the completion, was handed over to the Department of Trade (DoT). The trade department recently handed over the port to Phuentsholing thromde for operation.

Thrompon Uttar Kumar Rai said that a memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed with the trade department.

“We are looking for an appropriate time to start it,” he said, explaining it cannot be started as soon as it is handed over. “We also have to do handing-taking with DoT.”

The mini port was a project of the South Asian Sub-Region Economic Cooperation (SASEC).

Even as the thromde would take it, the dry port would still not be ready to operate fully, thrompon said, explaining that another SASEC project has to complete first. The northern bypass road (NBR) package I, a 2.7km four-lane road, which compliments the port, has to be completed. The recent monsoon delayed the project which was supposed to be completed by this month.

Thrompon Uttar Kumar Rai said that the port should be of optimal use once it starts functioning. As the dry port is near the second gate from where the NBR package I starts, traffic diversion is another factor that has to be considered. Counterpart across the border has to be involved for this, he added.

“Although we are losing in terms of revenue collection from the port, we have to start it properly,” thrompon Uttar Kumar Rai said.

After almost 15 years of dialogues and land disputes, construction of the dry port finally started in April 2017. Spread over 5.4 acres of land, the port can accommodate more than 45 trucks and help decongest the country’s largest trading town.

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

The dry port has essential facilities such as 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.

Rajesh Rai  | Phuentsholing