Trucker sees im­prove­ment with new port

China Daily (Canada) - - TIBET - By PHUNTSOG TASHI in Gyirong, Ti­bet daqiong@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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.

PALDEN NY­IMA / CHINA DAILY

Trucks from the Chi­nese side are lined wait­ing for in­spec­tion near the China Gyirong-Nepal Ra­suwa Bi­lat­eral Port.

PALDEN NY­IMA / CHINA DAILY

Nepali busi­ness­woman Mingme and her 4-year-old daugh­ter in her store near the bor­der of Ti­bet au­ton­o­mous re­gion and Nepal’s Ra­suwa Dis­trict. .

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