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Kandaharis losing faith in Afghan-Indo air corridor

Kandaharis losing faith in Afghan-Indo air corridor

Aug 07, 2017 - 20:06

KANDAHAR CITY (Pajhwok): Fresh fruit traders in southern Kandahar province say they are concerned about no further exports via the Afghanistaninfo-icon-India air corridor after the inaugural flights.

The businessmen say they were hopeful the air corridor would resolve their problems, but now their expectations are dying.

Members of the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) say trade via the air corridor has been slow due to technical issues and efforts to fix the problems are underway.

Three cargo flights from Kabulinfo-icon and one from Kandahar had so far reached India since President Ashraf Ghani inaugurated the Afghan-Indo air freight route, bypassing Pakistaninfo-icon, in June aimed at expanding trade ties between the two countries.

Jalal Rahman Sharar, a fresh fruit businessman in Kandahar, said the corridor was inaugurated at a time when the harvesting season of fresh fruits was not due and thus mostly dried fruits and herbals were delivered to Indians in the first cargo flight from Kandahar.

He added businessmen purchased fruits’ farms in the hope they would export grapes, apricot, melon and others to India through the air corridor.

He said ACCI officials had informed businessmen to prepare their harvests and products within 20 days, but no flight took place and most of the fruits spoiled and as a result, the businessmen suffered losses. He said traders were happy over the air corridor because it was economical compared to land routes.

Sharar asked the government to keep the corridor active and provide other facilities such as air conditioned trucks to keep the fruits from losing their quality during their delivery from one place to another.

Canada Fruit Factory Owner Saad-ul-Din Saeed said they had readied a container full of grapes to be delivered to India, but the cargo flights delayed and they dispatched the grapes to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Haji Aziz Ahmad, another businessman of fresh fruits, said frequent closure of the Spin Boldak border gate with Pakistan was a huge issue for them to export fresh fruits.

He said the Afghan-Indo air corridor was an important step towards reducing reliance on Pakistan, but the corridor’s inactivity had eroded people’s faith in the government.

Abdul Wasay, a gardener from Panjwai district, told Pajhwok that only specific figures benefitted from the Afghanistan-India Air Corridor which did not remain active as expected.

“Almost all fresh fruits are currently exported to Pakistan through land and are sold at very low prices. The advantage goes to Pakistani traders because they export Afghanistan fruits to other countries under their own trademarks,” he said.

He said gardeners and traders would earn more by airlifting their fruits to India.

Khan Jan Alokozay, ACCI deputy head, said fruits exportation to India had been suspended due to some technical problems.

Three cargo flights from Kabul and one from Kandahar province had so far flown to India via the air corridor so far, he said.

He added a contract had been signed with Aryana Airlines on cargo flights but the national flag carrier signed another contract with a foreign company that failed to provide cargo planes on time.

Alokozay said ACCI and the Presidential Palace were discussing the problem with domestic airlines companies for a solution.

He added Kam Air Airlines had showed its preparation to provide cargo planes for exports. “We hope the problem would be resolved until the end of this week,” he said.

“The ACCI is in contact with traders in Kabul, Kandahar, Herat, Mazar-i-Sharif and other provinces and they were assured the problem would be handled”, he said.

But he asked traders not to wait only for air exports of their fruits because Afghanistan produced a high amount of fresh fruits and all could not be exported through the air corridor.

“It is only an alternate or reserve way and technical problems happened due to new experience in fruits transportation,” he said.

“Afghanistan currently exports 2,500 tons of fruits through Torkham and Spin Boldak ports to Pakistan and Waga port to India on a daily basis without any problems, Alokozay said.

But he stressed the ACCI was trying to make the Afghanistan-India Air Corridor a success.

Few days back, ACCI second deputy head, Haji Mohammad Younus Momand, said cited problems in packaging and transportation of fruits as well as security and stressed the problems should be jointly resolved by the government and traders.

Experts believe the opening of the air corridor with India is a great opportunity for Afghanistan exports particularly fruits that would help boost the country’s economic situation.



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