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Scrap smuggling keeps Nangarhar metal industry struggling

Scrap smuggling keeps Nangarhar metal industry struggling

By
On
Feb 11, 2018 - 16:37

JALALABAD (Pajhwok): The smuggling of iron and tin scrap from Afghanistan to Pakistan has enervated the local metal industry to the point of collapse despite a presidential ban on the export of raw metal, officials and public representatives in eastern Nangarhar province say.

Officials at the Nangarhar Commerce and Industry department say if the metal scrap smuggling to Pakistan continues, it will result into the closure of six iron melting factories in the province. They blame security organs for their failure to prevent the smuggling.

Members of the Provincial Council (PC) also say metal scrap is smuggled to Pakistan in trucks via Torkham border crossing and through Lalpura district in pick-up vehicles.

Commerce and Industry department director Sher Alam confirmed the smuggling of metal scrap to Pakistan and said the presidential decree in this regard had not been enforced.

He said the security organs had failed in their job to prevent the smuggling of metal scrap. He said if the smuggling was not prevented, it would bring the already struggling local metal industry to a grinding halt.

“We don’t have raw metal, there are four iron melting plants in Nangarhar, which are run on these scraps and the smuggling phenomena is wasting investment on these plants,” he said.

The Nangarhar chapter of Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry office also expressed concern over the smuggling of metal scrap and called it a huge impediment to investment in the country.

The chamber spokesman in Nangarhar, Shakirullah Sapi, told Pajhwok Afghan News and four iron melting and two tiny-plate factories existed in Nangarhar, employing hundreds of people.

He said these factories used metal and tin scraps in manufacturing their products and the factories would be closed if the scrap smuggling to Pakistan continued.

However, he said the smuggling to Pakistan had dropped by 50 percent after he sought help from the main ACCI office in Kabul and the Ministry of Finance.

Owner of Javed Afghan Steel factory, Haji Tor Malang also claimed tons of metal in the name of scrap was daily smuggled to Pakistan.

“On a daily basis, dozens of containers loaded with metal and tin scraps are allowed to cross into Pakistan by Torkham police against hefty bribes. Each container can carry 120 tons of scrap.”

He said four iron melting factories were operational in Nangarhar and four new plants were being established but the main concern was the smuggling of metal scrap.

Nangarhar PC deputy head Dr. Lal Mohammad Durrani accused border police of paving the ground for metal scrap smuggling to Pakistan.

He said trucks and containers loaded with metal scraps were allowed through the Torkham border gate to enter Pakistan and pick up vehicles carried the scrap from Lalpura district to the neighboring country as well.

The public representative said the scrap was sometimes overtly smuggled and sometimes hidden beneath other goods.

However, first number border police battalion spokesman, Idris Momand, rejected their involvement in the scrap smuggling and they had completely prevented the smuggling.

He said if someone produced evidence against border police officials, those involved in the smuggling would be terminated and put on trial.

Afghanistan Labor Union All Afghanistan Federation of Trade Unions AAFTU head Dr. Mohammad Liaqat Adil said control over raw material and enough electricity played a major role in development of local industry.

He said factory workers should also play their role in prevention of scrap smuggling because hundreds of thousands of youth were jobless.

Adil urged industrialists and the government to protect the rights of laborers and pave the ground for continued investments in the country.

Since taking over as the president, Ashraf Ghani has been insisting on promotion of local industry and products and has banned the transfer of raw material outside the country.

About one month ago, a large metal factory was inaugurated in Kabul amid calls on the Ministry of Defense to effectively control the smuggling of metal scraps.

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