Afghan importers dump Karachi Port
KANDAHAR CITY (PAN): Infuriated Afghan traders who had suffered heavy losses as their imported cargoes remained stuck at Karachi Port for months are opting for alternative transit routes -- namely via Heart and Nimroz provinces.
Pakistan blocked the NATO supply route after 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed in an US airstrike in the Momand Agency of Pakistan near Afghan border last November -- which sparked off tension between Islamabad and Washington.
“Afghan traders are badly affected due to the delay at Karachi Port, so they searched for other alternative routes to import their goods and now they import through Islam Qala and Torghondi dry ports of western Herat and Nimroz provinces,” Mohammad Sharif, deputy head of Kandahar Customs house, told Pajhwok Afghan News.
Besides the traders, Kandahar Customs, located near the Pakistani border, also lost hefty revenues due to the delay at the neighbouring port.
For instance, last year custom’s revenue touched 2.5 billion afghanis, but over the past seven months of the current year, the department’s collection was only about 1billion afs, pointed out Sharif.
Most of the goods imported from China, Japan, Singapore and other countries entered Afghanistan via Karachi.
Afghan traders were also forced to find alternative routes due to the ongoing dispute between Baloch fighters and Pakistani army, because the highway cuts through insecure areas of Balochistan in Pakistan, he added.
A Kandahari trader Hajji Abdul Hadi revealed they switched to new routes primarily due to the containers piling up at Karachi Port and insecurity in Balochistan.
“Pakistani officials illegally stopped thousands of our containers and Afghan traders suffered losses amounting to millions of afghanis because perishable food items went to waste,” he added.
Traders now import their goods via Islam Qala and Torghonadai dry ports, while only Pakistani goods are imported through Spin Boldak dry port in Kandahar, he said.
Another affected trader Hajji Abdul Wahab said the road leading to Karachi was not safe to transport their goods due to highway robbers.
“A trader was importing 1,600 cartons from China through Karachi Port and 600 cartons were looted away,” he added.
If Pakistani officials provide proper facilities for Afghan traders from Karachi to Spin Boldak and guaranteed safe journey of their goods, traders would be ready to import their cargoes via Karachi again, said Sharif.
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