Story Archive

Terminal Bureaucracy

A week after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake slammed Nepal, killing thousands, relief efforts were in full swing, with supplies arriving from dozens of different countries who geared up to help. Except that the relief supplies are piling up at the Kathmandu airport. Why? Their Customs inspectors are behind on inspecting incoming shipments. United Nations officials are sputtering at the bureaucracy. Relief supplies should be passed without inspection, says U.N. Resident Representative Jamie McGoldrick. “They should not be using peacetime customs methodology.” But Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat says relief shipments need to be inspected since they may include useless items. “We have received things like tuna fish and mayonnaise. What good are those things for us? We need grains, salt and sugar.” Meanwhile, Shrimani Raj Khanal, a manager at the Nepal Food Corp., says “Our granaries are full and we have ample food stock, but we are not able to transport supplies at a faster pace.” So where are the extra helicopters and trucks that are needed to transport all that food? Stuck in Customs, at the airport. (RC/Reuters) ...Happily, foreign relief workers say their food is the best they’ve had at a disaster: “All the tuna salad we can eat!”
Original Publication Date: 03 May 2015
This story is in True’s book collections, in Volume 21.

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