PESHAWAR: Member Customs Dr. Jawwad Owais Agha said Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and Pakistan Customs successfully completed the task to open Torkham border round-the-clock. He deployed additional staff at Torkham border to activate round-the-clock operations to facilitate trade activities.
Delegation led by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mehmood Khan along with officials of federal and provincial government visited Customs Station Torkham recently. Advisor to Prime Minister Arbab Shehzad and FBR Member Customs Jawwad Agha, KP Finance Minister Taimur Saleem Jhagra, Chief Secretary KP, Collector MCC Preventive Asif Saeed Khan, Collector MCC Appraisement Peshawar Syed Ihsan Ali Shah, Director Transit Trade Peshawar Faiz Ali, Director Customs Intelligence Peshawar Rashid Habib Yousufzai and other officers of Khyber district and Frontier Corps were also present on the occasion.
The FBR, immigration, FC and NLC authorities briefed the Chief Minister and Advisor to the PM about the operational arrangements for 24/7 opening of Pak Afghan border following Prime Minister’s directives to boost bilateral trade between the two countries. In compliance with the directions of the Prime Minister, the Pakistan Customs has deputed additional staff at Torkham border to facilitate trade and expedite clearance of baggage and cargo.
Member Customs Jawwad Agha briefed the delegation that the government allocated Rs79 million for round-the-clock opening of Torkham Border for which special arrangements are completed. New staff of FIA has been posted at Torkham border, number of counters increased from 8 to 12, separated counters established for women and number of stamping officers increased from 1 to 6. He briefed the delegation that after 24/7 opening of Torkham Border, security forces will perform duty in three shifts.
It is important to know that at least 13,000 people cross Torkham Border on daily basis, 455 containers laden vehicles come inside the border every day and 700 vehicles exit from border into Afghanistan each day. The number of CCTV cameras increased from 67 to 96 at border to monitor inside out movement of vehicles loaded with containers. The FBR is in the process to introduce two sided carriage way for speedy scanning of the vehicles loaded with goods.
Advisor to PM Arbabh Shehzad said Prime Minister Imran Khan is keenly interested in enhancing not only bilateral but also international trade with Central Asian States, adding that efforts are afoot to extend all possible facilities for traders and transporters as well as passengers at Torkham crossing-point.
He said the Afghan government had also been taken on board to make reciprocal arrangements across the border. Completion of ADB-funded Central Asian Regional Economic Corridor (CAREC) border crossing point (BCP) project at Torkham would open a new vista of trade and business activities in the region, he added.
While elaborating FBR’s seriousness, Chairman FBR Syed Shabbar Zaidi in a statement said that the exports and transit to Afghanistan bear much promise for expansion of the customs operations at Torkham and the customs department being the premier agency has put its teams in place to brace up to this situation.
Chairman further informed that around 12 thousand passengers traverse across this border station daily and their facilitation and baggage clearance is an area being addressed by Customs, besides around 300 empty containers (after offloading their cargo in Afghanistan) are also sent back daily from the Afghan side.
To implement the directions, 54 customs personnel consisting of Superintendents, Appraisers, Inspectors and other supporting staff have been withdrawn from other formations and deployed at Model Customs Collectorate of Appraisement Peshawar for Torkham.
Although the customs formations are badly short in strength and request for creation of different posts is under consideration of Finance Department, however in order to give compliance to the directions of Prime Ministers Advisor on Establishment and the urgent need for expansion of the operations at Torkham, the Member (Customs Operations) has made all efforts and withdrawn customs staff for deployment in order to facilitate and expand the trade at Torkham.
The customs clearance will be managed through three shifts. The day and night customs clearance operations will greatly facilitate the import and export at Torkham leading to significant reduction of transport charges and fast movement of trade.
As a prelude the customs operations have already been expanded starting from 7.00 A.M. in the morning till 9.00 pm, since the past two months. The senior Customs Operations hierarchy have paid visit to Torkham to ensure launch of these operations in the coming days.
The connecting requirements for equipments and support apparatus are being placed on ground through the cooperation of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government. The said operations for round the clock are going to be started shortly for which formal ceremony will also take place in the presence of federal government high ups and FBR administration.