Ghulam Khan transit route: Ghani reminded of campaign pledge
KHOST CITY (Pajhwok): Officials, traders and residents on Thursday accused the central government of paying little heed to the Khost-Ghulam Khan transit route.
Former president, Hamid Karzai, had approved the construction of the transit route in 2003. But the project has not been implemented for unknown reasons.
Nearly two years back, buildings were constructed for the Ghulam Khan dry port, the customs department and commissary. But the buildings costing 250 million afs have not been inaugurated so far.
In addition to the buildings, a 35-kilometre long road has been built between Khost City -- the provincial capital -- and Ghulam Khan Port at a cost of 545 million afs.
High-ranking officials are paying little attention to the importance of the issue due to their personnel interests, the provincial head of the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) alleges.
Nawab Amirzaisays: “In response to our repeated requests, officials only hold out promise. No practical steps have been taken so far.
“Some say the transit route to the Ghulam Khan Portwould have a negative impact on the Torkham port,” he continues, dismissing the concerns as unfounded.
Both President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Abdullah had pledged on the campaign trail turning the port into a transit route.
Since the people of Khost province do not hold key positions in the government, the economic development of the province is given no attention, he thinks.
Businessman Alaf Khan Mangal remarks neither the road has become a transit routenor Pakistani troops allow vehicles to cross the border.
“We want the central government to resolve the issue, because the transportation cost of goods through Torkham is double,” he says.
Civil society activist Mohammad Zaman Nazari urges the central government to take urgent steps on the transit route issue and hold talk with Pakistan in this regard.
“The route is beneficial for ordinary people in terms of cutting prices of commodities. The government should realise the importance of the issue.”
Economy Director Eng. Hamid Shah agrees transportation through Ghulam Khan Route with Pakistan will be more economical. The distance between Karachi and Khost is 400 kilometers shorter than other routes.
“A transit route will help improve political relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan in addition to boosting business and economic activity in the landlocked country,” he argues.
Provincial council chairman, Abdul Wali Wahidzai, wants President Ashraf Ghani to honour the promise he has held out to Khost people.
“All of Khostis had voted for Ghani in the 2014 elections in the hope he will redeem his pledges. But he has kept none of his promises so far,” he deplores.
Khost police chief Brig. Gen. Faizullah Ghairat insists the Ghulam Khan route has no security problem and they will protect it in the future too.
He maintains businesspeople could safely transport their goods from Ghulam Khan Port to Khost and other provinces when work on the project is completed.
“I assure the central government we can ensure security of traders and their goods at the Ghulam Khan Port,” he continues.
Mubarez Mohammad Zadran, the governor’s spokesman, says several meetings have been held with officials of Ministries of Commerce and Finance on the subject.
He adds the issue remainsunresolved as a result of negligence on the part of some officials.“In 2013, former commerce minister Anwarul Haq Ahady had promised the launch of work the port in three months.”
But three years on, the spokesman laments, the promise is yet to be kept. The question has now been taken up with the national unity government.
“All procedures for opening the transit route have been met. We are awaiting approval from Afghan and Pakistan governments,” he concludes.
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