Kathmandu, Apr. 28: COVID-19 medical supplies purchased by the Nepali Army from China are likely to arrive by the first week of May, according to the Nepali Army Headquarters. Eight days ago, the NA had purchased 342 tonnes of medical supplies at Rs 2.25 billion from China Sinopharm International Corporation (CSIC), the State-owned company of China, under the government-to-government model. The purchased goods are currently at the Guangzhou-based depot as per a deal inked between the Company and the NA. "The purchased goods will not come to Nepal within April, we will most probably bring the first lot of essential toolkits by two flights of Nepal Airlines," Brigadier General and spokesperson of Nepali Army Headquarters, Bigyan Dev Pandey said on Monday. Meanwhile, the NA has said that the Chinese company in Guangzhou has started reminding the NA to begin loading their purchased goods and clear the depot, according to sources at the Army Headquarters. "We have, however, been unable to bring the purchased goods as of today as the chartered flights were not fixed and the amount for conducting the chartered flight was yet to
be released from the Ministry of Finance," the sources said on condition of anonymity. In the first phase, the NA has planned to conduct two chartered flights from Kathmandu to Guangzhou to lift the medical supplies. Over Rs 10.5 million will be required for a chartered flight. As per informal understanding reached between the NA and the chartered flight operator, they have agreed to bring the supplies putting them on passenger's seats, the sources said. This will help bring extra amount of supplies rather than just loading them at the back side of the wide body aircraft of the Nepal Airlines. Nepali Army has already made it clear that in one chartered flight, the wide body aircraft can carry up to 18-20 tonnes. Thus, the Army Headquarters has also been planning to bring the remaining goods by roadways. For doing so, the NA has been finalising all procedures to confirm transporter (freight company) which can directly bring the goods up to the godown of the Nepali Army from Guangzhou to Tatopani dry port in Sindhupalchowk and from Sindhupalchowk to the NA depot, according to Pandey. According to Pandey, the NA on Saturday opened the tender bids for confirming the freight company via roadways. He said the NA had requested the Finance Ministry through the Defence Ministry channel to release the required amount to bring the goods by roadways. Altogether 11 freight forwarder companies had applied for the tender. According to Pandey, it will normally take seven days to bring goods from Guangzhou to Tatopani dry port with additional two days of customs clearance procedure. Meanwhile, the NA is close to ink a final agreement with BPI India Pvt Ltd to bring 53 types of medicines to fight the coronavirus. The formal agreement is yet to take place, he said. The company has not sought any type of payment in advance before supplying the goods to Nepal, he said. But the NA has begun the process to send Rs 20.4 million for the purchase to the Indian company, he said. The purchased medicines will first be stored in New Delhi-based Nepali Embassy and from there the NA will bring them either by arranging a chartered flight or by roadways.