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Insecurity, lousy road undercut port value

Insecurity, lousy road undercut port value

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On
Aug 23, 2014 - 16:14

BADAKHSHAN (Pajhwok): Multiple problems have forced traders to spend more on transporting their imports through Sher Khan and Hairatan ports instead of Ishkashim in northeastern Badakhshan province, officials said on Saturday.

Insecurity, lousy roads, lack of equipment and lack of government attention were identified as main problems at the Ishkashim port, which is located on the border with Tajikistan and linked to China. 

Badakhshan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) official Saifullah Omari said they were unable to transport commercial goods in 2002 from China through Ishkashim port to Badakhshan.

The unpaved road and bridges on it, especially in the Kharq area of Tajikistan, damaged commercial goods.  The Tajik government had earlier pledged to repair the transit route and reconstruct the bridges.

Omari said: “Traders have opted for using the Sher Khan Port of Kunduz and Hairatan in Balkh for imports.” Presently, a handful of items such as cement, cigarette, dry milk, tea and oil are exported through Ishkashim to Tajikistan.

Timbers, explosives used for construction purposes, vehicles and fuel are among the main imports. Being the shortest route to China, businessman Mohammad Israel said, the Ishkashim port had been a victim of official apathy.  

The Use of Sher Khan and Hairatan ports caused delays in imports and inflicted huge expenses on traders, he complained.

Badakhshan Customs Director Ulfat Shah Nazari said they had been set a revenue target of three million afghanis by the Ministry of Finance in 2014. So far more than 1.5 million afs have been earned from Ishkashim and Shaghnan ports over the past five months -- 117,000 afs more or a 29,000 afs increase over last year.

If the current problems are resolved, Ishkashim port could be converted into a commercial hub in northern provinces. Its revenue will jump to millions of dollars.

Ishkashim is part of the historical Silk Route. Starting from Faizabad, the provincial capital, its main part is connected to neighbouring China through the Pamir area of Wakhan district.

mm/rm/mud

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