KARACHI: Despite a tweet by Prime Minister Imran Khan announcing opening of Afghan border, not a single transit trade vehicle could cross into neighboring country due to procedural lapses.
Chairman All Pakistan Customs Bonded Carriers Association Shams Burney said around 2,100 containers of Afghan transit trade were on the road, while around 6,000 containers were stuck at the port.
“After the Prime minister announced to open Afghan border, around two dozen vehicles carrying export goods were allowed to cross into the Afghanistan, which would enter the neighboring country on Saturday. However, not a single transit trade vehicle was even allowed to pass.”
Burney informed that the border had been opened, but the Frontier Constabulary (FC) announced that drivers going into Afghanistan would be kept in quarantine for 14 days on their return. “Drivers are now very much reluctant to go into the neighboring country.”
Around 10,000 containers of Afghan transit trade land at Pakistan’s port every month. The Chaman border was closed on March 03, 2020 stranding 1,600 vehicles en-route. Torkham border was closed on March 16, 2020 and 400 more vehicles were stranded.
Now, 2,100 vehicles carrying reefer containers, edibles and all other commodities are waiting to cross the border. On the other hand approximately 6,000 containers are stuck up at ports.
Moreover, the Customs web based system (WeBOC) automatically blocks the NTN of bonded carriers that fail to cross border within 14 days. “Now NTN of almost all the bonded carriers are blocked, which takes a complete procedure for unblocking.”
Shams Burney said Afghanistan is a land-locked country and procedural lapses should not hurt the trade.
Moreover, the importers are facing trouble in making payment of duty/taxes through the e-payment facility. It was known that banks were offering the facility to a limited number of companies and traders, while majority of importers were not using this facility.