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Traders reject partial movement of transit goods at Torkham border

Traders reject partial movement of transit goods at Torkham border

PESHAWAR: The number of transit vehicles to cross Torkham border has increased from 100 to 150 per day, the border management officials claimed on Thursday.

However, the traders rejected the decision and asked for the restoration of 24/7 operation on Torkham border crossing.

Following the closure of border crossing points to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Pakistan had announced the opening of borders with Afghanistan five days a week, with the border management allowing only 100 transit vehicles a day.

Rejecting the decision of the border management, traders said the exports to Afghanistan, which consists mostly of food items, would spoil in the containers till their turn to cross the border.

They say due to these issues, the exporters from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are facing heavy losses.

Shahid Hussain, who is senior vice-president of the Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told media that the decision of the border management to allow 150 vehicles a day doesn’t makes any difference until the resumption of 24/7 operation on all the crossing points with Afghanistan.

He said the partial opening of the crossing points would further add to the problems faced by the traders and exporters of the province.

At present, Hussain said, there are 8,000 containers of Afghan transit waiting for their turn and even if 150 vehicles are allowed to pass on  daily basis, it will take a long to clear them but then more containers will arrive. “The only solution available is to restore round the clock operation.”

“We demand the government and the border management to have mercy on the traders and transporters and launch 24/7 operation on the border,” Hussain said.

On Wednesday, the border management, the District Administration Khyber, Customs officials, Frontier Corps and police held a joint meeting to discuss the situation at the border during the COVID-19 crisis. The participants decided to increase to number of vehicles from 100 to 150.

According to sources, the border management is being accused by taking bribes from the transporters and only those are allowed to cross the border who can afford to pay bribes.

Sources claimed from Rs10,000 to Rs70,000 have been received from vehicles at Takhta Baig to help them to move ahead.

Khyber District Police Officer Dr Muhammad Iqbal said a policy is being formulated as per the orders of the provincial government to cope with the crises created by the coronavirus. He said the number of 100 transit vehicles has been increased to 150 daily a day. Iqbal asked the transporters to wait their turn to avoid difficulties and mismanagement on the border crossing.

The DPO further said the Khyber district administration is well aware of the issues and difficulties of transporters and traders and working to find a reasonable solution in collaboration with all relevant institutions and trade organisations.

“No transporter will be abused by the police at Torkham border.  We’ll provide every possible facility to the transporters going to Afghanistan,” Iqbal assured.

He said the departmental action would be taken against the policemen on Pak-Afghan Highway and Torkham Border if they are found harassing the traders and drivers.