Road closure sends Balkh revenue dipping
MAZAR-I-SHARIF (Pajhwok): The customs department’s daily revenue has fallen by 50 percent due to the closure of the Kabul-Balkh highway, officials said on Monday.
A 100-metre section of the highway was washed away by flash floods four days ago in the Tashqar Ghan Tangi area of Khulam district, halting traffic flows.
Balkh Customs Director Abdul Sattar Sarhal told Pajhwok Afghan News the blockade had drastically affected his department’s revenue collections.
He said the number of vehicles with goods for import and export plying between the Hairatan port and Mazar-i-Sharif had decreased to 20 from the previous 70.
“Normally, we collect 20 million afghanis in revenue on a daily basis, but over the past four days, the collections have come down to 9 million afs,” he said.
Had the government facilitated traffic movement between northern Kunduz and Balkh through the Airgank area, the negative impact on trade activity would have been prevented to some extent, he said.
Trader representatives also said if the government failed to reconstruct the destroyed section of the Kabul-Balkh highway and find an alternative route, the time was not far when the trade activity would come to a standstill across the country.
Balkh Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief Arsh Younasi told Pajhwok the bulk of Afghanistan’s imports and exports arrived and departed via the Hairatan and Aqina dry ports.
He said the closure of the Kabul-Balkh highway had disconnected the two dry ports with the rest of Afghanistan.
He said if the government had no time to repair the Kabul-Balkh highway, it should think about the Kunduz-Balkh route, which he said was only dirt and had no other problems.
Officials of the Emergency Response Committee in Balkh said it had been decided to start reconstruction work on the damaged Kabul-Balkh road tomorrow and that the Public Works Ministry had agreed to pay for the cost.
They also said vehicles had started plying the dirt Balkh-Kunduz road to reach Kabul and other provinces.
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