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Kandahar fruit exporters complain of bribes, delays

Kandahar fruit exporters complain of bribes, delays

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Jul 07, 2018 - 16:32

KANDAHAR CITY (Pajhwok): Traders from southern Kandahar province grumble about problems in exporting fruit and other products to neighbouring Pakistaninfo-icon.

The complaints about export issues crop up as the fresh fruit season has begun in Kandahar, which also sells other products to Pakistani businesspeople.

Fresh Fruit Traders Union head Haji Nanai Agha, told Pajhwok Afghan News they were faced with problems amid fruit harvests in the province.

Whenever trucks loaded with fruits moved into Pakistan through Spin Boldak or entered Afghanistaninfo-icon, drivers were forced to pay bribes in the name of transit fee, he alleged.

“Each trucker has to pay 2,500 Afghanis in transit fee and 1,700 afghanis in tax. This has created problems for fruit exporters,” he complained.

He claimed the money was extorted despite the fact that no such duty had been imposed on fruit exports under the relevant law.

These and other problems in the area of exports were shared with the Kandahar governor some days ago. Traders asked him to resolve the issues, Agha said.

He added in most of cases, fruit-laden trucks were made to wait at the custom’s department without any reason. As a result, the fruits went rotten, he maintained.

Abdul Samad, a of fresh fruit exporter, also complained the fruit got rotten as Pakistani officials opened the border for trucks only for an hour or two. At times, he continued, truckers had to wait for a full day.

In general, fruits were loaded on trucks after the sunset and should reach Pakistan markets the same night, he said. But frequent delays damaged the fruit quality and thus affected their prices, he explained.

Samad asked Pakistani authorities not to create problems for them. In the past, he recalled, the border was closed for days and Kandahar fruit exporters suffered heavy losses.

However, he said there were so far no such problems on the border and Pakistan had lowered tax on fresh fruits from Afghanistan by 50 percent.

Last year, Pakistan charged 120,000 rupees from each fresh fruit-laden truck. The amount has now been cut to 60,000 rupees.

He added grape exports from Kandahar to Pakistan had recently begun. Seven to eight trucks of the fruit are exported daily to the neighbouring country. The exports will increase when grapes ripen across the province.

Kandahar Chamber of Commerce and Industry deputy head Eng. Abdu Baqi Bina agreed with the traders and said the issue had been shared with the local administration.

He said the governor had promised resolving the problems and providing facilities to exporters. The governor has assured them of an end to extortions on the border.

In this regard, Bina said, chamber officials had talked to Pakistan consulate officials. The diplomats have promised keeping the border open for a longer time to facilitate exports.

Grape exports through the Afghan-India air corridor have also started from Kandahar.

Transport and civil aviation minister, who visited Kandahar a few days back, had said Afghanistan’s fresh fruits would also be exported to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other Gulf countries.

Bina said Afghan traders would prepare 40 tons of fruits each week and export fly to India after August. The air cargo contract has switched to Kam Air and “we hope flights will be better organised and traders will be able to export products to India in larger mounts.”

However, Bina said problems still existed at the Kandahar airport, which lacked facilities like storage quality checks and transportation.

On the other hand, the governor has ordered customs and transport departments to prevent delays in fruit exports. He has directed the authorities to help traders transport their products in time.

Zalmai Weesa said the local administration would cooperate with traders in accordance with the law and provide them with needed facilities. However, he asked traders to comply with the law and honour their relevant rules.

mds/mud

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