Nepali vehicles at Tiptala waiting for border point to open

Taplejung, May 24: For the first time, vehicles registered with Nepali number plates have arrived at the Tiptala border point between Nepal and Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) of China at Olangchungola in Phaktanglung Rural Minicipality-7 of Taplejung district. The border is located at an altitude of 5,100 metres. 

Chheten Lama Sherpa, Ward Chairman of Phaktanglung Rural Municipality-7, informed that an excavator and a tractor reached the Tiptala border for the first time on May 17, with the completion of the remaining road track under the North-South Lokmarga. He said that it became possible to bring Nepali vehicles to Tiptala after the completion of the track construction from Sukepani to Olangchungola and the repair and upgrade of the previously constructed road from Gola to Tiptala.

The road construction and upgrading work is being carried out by SBA Elite JV Company. The construction company had set a goal to connect the road to Tiptala by the end of Chaitra (mid-March to mid-April). However, it was not achieved due to encountering hard rocks in the Sukepani-Jongin road section. 

Upon the arrival of road network, people of the district are seen happy, especially those from Olangchungola, Yangma and Ghunsa, the settlements closest to the Tiptala border.

With the extension of the road to Tiptala, a road network connecting Nepal, India, and China has been established. The North-South Lokmarga connects Tiptala at the Tibet border, running from the Rani border in Biratnagar, India, through the Tamor Corridor. The road, approximately 292 kilometres long, is considered the shortest tri-national route connecting Nepal, India and China.

However, the Tiptala border has not yet come into operation although it is connected to the road network. The border has been closed for five years since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Continuous efforts are being made to reopen the Tiptala border, which was unilaterally closed by China. Although it was announced that the border would reopen on May 7, it has not happened yet.

A Nepali team including local security officials led by Chief District Officer Rabindra Acharya had discussed with representatives of Dinggye County Government of on reopening the Tiptala border lately. During the discussion, both the parties had agreed to open the border on May 7. 

According to Acharya, the border could not come to operation due to insufficient preparation from the TAR including technical reasons. 

Meanwhile, many locals had obtained entry permits to go to TAR after receiving information that the border would come to operation from May 7. According to local Tenzing Walung of Olangchungola, more than 30 people with entry permits from the District Administration Office were waiting to enter Tibet on May 7 but were not allowed to do so. He said that those with entry permits were still waiting for the border to open.

According to Acharya, around 130 ordinary citizens from Ward No. 6 (Lelep) and Ward No. 7 (Olangchungola) of Phaktanglung Rural Municipality, Ward No. 5 (Papung) of Mikwakhola Rural Municipality had obtained permits to enter Tibet.

The residents who have not been able to meet their relatives for a long time due to the closure of the Tiptala border are eagerly waiting for the day they can go to Tibet. Many families residing in Papung, Olangchungola, Yangma, Lelep’s Ghunsa, and other areas have ties to Tibet. These settlements have marital relationships with Tibet.

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