2,000 Afghan containers remain stuck in Karachi
KANDAHAR CITY (Pajhwok): As many as 2,000 containers loaded with food and non-food items belonging to Afghan importers have been stuck at Pakistan’s Karachi sea port over the past two weeks.
Afghan traders in the southern zone say the shipping freight rate in Pakistan has been increased at a time when the price of a litre of petrol had reduced from 110 Pakistani rupees to Rs60.
Dozens of traders on Wednesday visited the governor’s house in southern Kandahar province to lodge their protest with the provincial administration over problems they face in Pakistan.
Kandahar Traders Union member Haji Rahamuddin Agha told Pajhwok Afghan News their thousands of containers had been stuck at the Karachi port due to an unjustified increase in cargo traffic rates.
He said previously, despite high fuel prices, the transfer of 20 tonnes of goods from Karachi to Chaman border crossing would cost Rs105,000, but the rent had been increased to Rs145,000.
He alleged some circles, including the Pakistani government, were involved in the artificial increase.
He said instead of facilitating Afghan traders under agreements with the Afghan government, the Pakistani government was creating problems for them.
Agha asked the Pakistani government to resolve problems facing Afghan traders there, and implement what promises Islamabad held out to Kabul in transit trade during President Ghani’s visit to the neighbourng country.
He said they had raised their problems with the Presidential Palace, Afghanistan and Pakistan chambers of commerce and the Afghan Ministry of Commerce, but the problems remained.
Agha warned on behalf of all Afghan traders that if Pakistani did not reduce the shipping rate to Rs70,000 per container in line with decline in fuel rates, they would switch to Iran’s Abbas port.
However, he said if they changed the port, it would render many drivers jobless in Pakistan and increase prices in Afghanistan.
Another trader, Saeed Jan, said the stranded Afghan goods included food items like sugar, ghee, flour and non-food like medicines and construction materials. He said if Pakistan did not reduce the shipping rate, Afghanistan could face a price-hike this winter.
Acting governor Dr. Tooryalai Weesa told Pajhwok Afghan News they had discussed the issue with the Pakistani Consulate in Kandahar and the Afghan Consulate in Karachi and other high officials.
He said the demand of Afghan traders was genuine because when fuel rates went down, the transport costs also declined.
He promised efforts and encouraging the Afghan officials concerned to find a solution to the problem.
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