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Thousands to lose jobs if customs office shifted to Islam Qala’

Thousands to lose jobs if customs office shifted to Islam Qala’

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Apr 24, 2019 - 16:25

HEART CITY (Pajhwok): Hundreds of customs workers in western Herat province on Wednesday protested against the government’s decision to move the provincial customs office to Islam Qala port and warned to block roads if their demand was not accepted.

The protestors were chanting slogans, ‘We want justice’ and said that thousands of workers would lose their jobs if the customs office was shifted to Islam Qala.

A day earlier, the Ministry of Finance in a statement said that moving the customs office form Herat city to Islam Qala would generate around 10,000 jobs.

Abdul Zahir, one of the protestors, told Pajhwok Afghan News, “We are around 8,000 workers and our economic situation is not good, we accept working for 30 afghanis, but they shifted the customs office and we lost our job.”  He warned they would shut the Herat highway if their demand was not accepted.

Ghulam Sarwar Burhani, another demonstrator, said, “We also protested few days ago and the governor’s house gave us false promises and moved the Heart customs office to Islam Qala.” He said they would struggle for their rights.

Sayed Arif, another protestor, said, “We came here to defend our rights, we would close the highway and would not let the customs office to be moved anywhere else.”

Meanwhile, Shamrod Khan Masjidi, the Finance Ministry spokesman, said that the decision for shifting the Herat customs office to Islam Qala port was taken to increase revenue, prevent goods trafficking, tax evasion and provide better services to people.

He said the shifting would also help reduce corruption and create more work opportunities for people.

Most of the protesting people were not formal workers of the customs office, he said.

Under the customs law, customs offices should be located on borders and a similar decision would be taken regarding the custom offices of Kandahar and the northern region of the country, he said.

Bordering Iran, Islam Qala port is 120 kilometers west of Herat city. It is one of the country’s major border towns, which earns billions of afghanis in revenue for the government each year.

mds/ma

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