Trucker sees improvement with new port
Two hours before the ceremony opening China Gyirong NepalRasuwa Bilateral Port on Dec 1, Lhakpa went to the site to learn how the revitalized port might affect his business.
A native of Tibet’s Gyirong township, Lhakpa has worked as a driver since the age of 15, and now, at 34, owns a small trucking firm.
“I have long been waiting for this day, and I believe it will boost my business,” he said of the port’s opening.
Lhakpa said that along with efforts made by the local and central governments in recent years to revive the depressed Gyirong Port, dramatic changes have been made in the quality of life for border residents.
“Surrounded by high mountains and a harsh environment, our villagers suffered from poor conditions in the past,” he said. “With improved traffic conditions and a better electricity network, our villagers have begun to enjoy the advantages brought about by the government.”
Lhakpa said few people in his village have any business skills, but he thinks they will learn quickly.
“Making a fresh start in business is just like learning to drive for the first time,” he said. “I hope more of my fellow villagers can join the business world.”
Lhakpa’s business is a fleet of 13 trucks that transport goods between China and Nepal.
Playing the role of intermediary between merchants in the two countries, over time he has built a reputation for trustworthiness on both sides.
“I don’t have much money to do big business, however, I think what I do currently is a safe business,” Lhakpa said, adding that he gets support from the government so he does not have to take investment risks.
He said his team has imported 57 truckloads of goods for the Chinese market so far this year, and exported 133 truckloads of goods to Nepal.
With each imported package, of which he can fit 60 on each truck, he earns $20 to $30, and $250 for each exported truckload. He has made around $80,735 so far this year, he said.
Residents of Gyirong said China and Nepal have been trading since ancient times, though the quantity of products was limited. Following the opening of the new port, they expect the volume to increase greatly.
Currently, Lhakpa transports imported goods two- to- three times a week but, now that the port has reopened, he expects to increase that to eight-to-nine times each week.
The goods he imports include Nepalese handicrafts, groceries, wooden products and clothes, and he exports shoes, clothes and televisions.
“In the past, the road was bad, and the services and functions of the port were unfinished,” he said. “Now the condition is improved, I believe this port will provide access to a large cross-border market soon.”
Lhakpa said there are around 100 households near Gyirong and, apart from a few businesses owned by local Tibetans, most of the businesses in the town are owned by Nepalese.
He has high expectations for the new port.
“The further opening of the port will help to increase the flow rate of visitors and imports and exports, and I hope I will realize better business,” he said.
Trucks from the Chinese side are lined waiting for inspection near the China Gyirong-Nepal Rasuwa Bilateral Port.
Nepali businesswoman Mingme and her 4-year-old daughter in her store near the border of Tibet autonomous region and Nepal’s Rasuwa District. .