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    Balkh traders say railroad a useless project

    MAZAR-I-SHARIF (PAN): Traders in northern Balkh province complain they are yet to benefit from the Mazar-i-Sharif-Hairatan railway line that was inaugurated some months ago.

    The 75-kilometre track, linking Mazar-i-Sharif with the Hairatan border town of neighbouring Uzbekistan, cost $129 million, provided by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

    “Traders of the province have not been able so far to get benefit from the track,” acting Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) head for Balkh said.

    Abdul Wahab told Pajhwok Afghan News traders had to pay heavy charges for storing their goods in the Naimabad area of Hairatan and at the Mazar-i-Sharif airport, where storage facilities were not available.

    He asked the government to construct storage facilities for traders’ goods and provide them with other facilities as well.

    “A railway line reduces the transportation cost and helps ensures in-time delivery of goods if all facilities for traders are made available,” said a fuel importer, Pir Mohammad.

    Currently, the track is being used for transportation of goods and fuel for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), he added.

    But another fuel dealer, Syed Taqi Nabikhel, was happy with the railroad, saying there might be some problems at the beginning. Not only traders, but all people would benefit from the project in the future, he hoped.

    The track remained open for 24 hours to transfer trade goods from Uzbekistan to Mazar-i-Sharif, said the railways head, Abdul Bari.

    An official at the Hairatan dry port, Qazi Najibullah, believed the railway line would boost the country’s economy and help improve trade relations with Uzbekistan.