PESHAWAR: Dual closure of main Afghan Transit Route and in a state of compulsion, the exporters have openly auctioned perishable items loaded in the trucks and trailers stranded at the Pak-Afghan border at Torkham for the past many weeks.
`We had requested the local vendors and shopkeepers to cooperate with us by buying vegetables and fruits even at half rate so that exporters could recover at least the transportation charges,` Khan Gul said and urged the government to open the border as soon as possible.
Several traders in Peshawar told Customs Today that most of the export items, especially vegetables and fresh fruits, had decayed but whatever remained was openly auctioned on the roads and sold in different localities along the border areas.
He said the traders, who had some sort of business setup in Peshawar, availed the opportunity to sell export goods in local areas and managed to recover financial losses to a great extent but others suffered a total loss.
A trader, Saleem Khan, said he was a small-scale businessman but the border closure had caused huge losses to all of them. He said with the closure of the border local vegetables were available at reasonable prices but the price of tomato had gone up because the wholesalers had cancelled their agreements with the Afghanistan based importers as a result of which the rates soared in Peshawar markets also.
Five kilogram of tomatoes was available at about Rs600 but the price would come down once its supply started from different districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa or with the opening of Pak-Afghan border. Pak-Afghan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry senior Vice-President Ziaul Haq Sarhadi, when contacted, said the prolonged closure of the border had forced the exporters to end their business because no one was ready to face huge financial losses on daily basis.
The shipping companies are charging between $100 and $165 per container on daily basis in addition to Rs5,000 daily transport charges (per truck) and customs charges are not affordable for people with limited resources, he said.
Sarhadi, who is also vice-chairman of the FPCCI`s standing committee on dry ports, said export, import business with Afghanistan and central Asian states had almost come to a standstill due to closure of the border. He also talked about port surcharge and loading charges and said that Pakistani business community would be unable to restore confidence of foreign traders for resumption of trade activities if standoff continued any longer.
`We have always raised the slogan that national security should be our top priority but the government should not adopt discriminatory attitude which has kept Wagah border open and closed the Torkham border at the cost of our business,` he complained.