The Kathmandu valley may face a shortage of clothing, footwear and electronic items this festive season as imported goods have been stuck at border points for the past month due to indefinite Tarai strikes, making the traders reluctant to place further import orders.
Importers have complained the ordered items are stranded at various customs points and India’s Kolkata port and this could send the prices soaring.
Although the items in stocks are being offered at discounted rates (up to 50 percent) in valley markets, traders are not offering discounts on new arrivals. Rather, they have hiked the prices.
Indra Bhatta, one of the importers of electronic items, said he had opened the Letter of Credit (LC) of less amount this year fearing of a possible loss due to the strikes.
“Many containers are stranded along the border and we are paying $100 per day as demurrage,” he said. “We started bringing in the goods through Kolkata port after Tatopani and Rasuwagadhi border points closed after the April 25 earthquake, but this route too is not problem-free.”
Generally, the goods ordered by Nepali traders are collected from different parts of China and are brought to the Kolkata port. According to traders, it takes around one and half months for shipments to arrive in Nepal by sea.
Rahul Agrawal, one of the apparel wholesalers based at Newroad, said the supply has dropped 50 percent at a time when the demand from small retailers has jumped significantly.
He too said he placed smaller order this year. “As I don’t have new goods to offer to the consumers, I am selling whatever I have in stock,” he said, adding he was less cheerful this festive season.
“This should have been the busiest time. The strike has hit the market hard,” said Binod Agrawal, proprietor of Jay Laxmi Traders at RB Complex, Newroad. He said his store did not have enough items even if some retailers place orders.
Meanwhile, consumers are fearing of a possible price rise to low supply and high demand. “First, we won’t be able to buy new launches. And second, we have to pay higher prices for whatever we buy,” said Garima Kafle, a student. “So the government should take steps to end the strikes as soon as possible,” she said, adding clothing and footwear items have already become expensive.
Source: The Kathmandu Post