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Border closure: Afghan traders claim incurring 30m afs loss

Border closure: Afghan traders claim incurring 30m afs loss

Aug 21, 2016 - 20:58

KANDAHAR (Pajhwok): Fresh fruits traders say they incurred a loss amounting to 30 million afghanis due to the closure of the Friendship Gate on the Afghanistaninfo-icon-Pakistaninfo-icon border.

On the other hand, local officials in Kandahar say talks with Pakistani authorities are underway on reopening the Spin Boldak-Chaman border crossing and hope the border crossing will be reopened soon.

The border remained closed for a fourth consecutive day on Sunday, leaving stranded thousands of people, trucks loaded with fresh fruits and other food and non-food items.

Kandahar Fresh Fruits Traders Union head Haji Nani Agha told Pajhwok Afghan News that fresh fruits traders alone had suffered 30 million afghanis loss due to the gate’s closure.

But he said the overall loss was high because food items destined for Afghanistan had decayed across the border and thousands of people who wanted to cross the border for medical treatment, business and other needs remained stranded.

Since yesterday, Agha said, nearly 70 tonnes of grapes loaded in trucks were thrown away after being decayed and similarly melons and watermelons on hundreds of trucks could meet the same fate.

He said nearly 3000 grape orchard workers associated with traders were rendered jobless and their wages remained unpaid due to the border closure. Similarly, 60 fruit agents in Pakistan’s various cities were deprived of income.

Agha said currently eight trucks carrying grapes and other fruits daily entered Pakistan from Afghanistan via Torkham border crossing to reach the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, and Lahore, but the business through Spin Boldak border crossing to reach Quetta, Karachi, Faisalabad, Multan and other cities had come to a complete halt.

The trader leader said they had contracted the central government about the closure of the border and the government had assured them of discussing the issue with the Pakistani government.

He said people, particularly traders, were awaiting the border’s reopening and if the border closure continued, it would result into heavy losses.

While a large number of common people told Pajhwok Afghan News over the telephone that thousands of people stranded on both sides of the border were in great trouble. They included womeninfo-icon and children.

The Kandahar governor’s spokesman, Samim Khpalwak, said the issue had been shared with the Foreign Ministry and Afghanistan Ambassador to Pakistan Dr. Omar Zakhiwal.

He said talks over the border closure with Pakistan were underway since yesterday and hoped the border would be reopened soon.

Sources say the Pakistani border security forces shut the border gate after some people set afire a Pakistani national flag while celebrating Afghanistan’s Independence Day.

But Kandahar officials do not confirm the flag burning incident and say it is unknown why the border was closed.

The Spin Boldak border crossing is the only transit route between the two countries in southern Afghanistan. Thousands of people and trucks cross the border on a daily basis.

Each year, Pakistan closes the border at a time when fruits are harvested in Afghanistan as 90 percent of the fruits are exported to Pakistan through this route.



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