Traders demand withdrawal of SOPs at Torkham border

PESHAWAR: The Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry has demanded the government to withdraw standard operating procedures at the Torkham border, besides removing hurdles in the way of Pak-Afghan mutual and transit trade.

The demands were made by SCCI Senior Vice President Shahid Hussain during a meeting with Transit Trade (Karachi) Director-General Raza Ahmad Khan at the Model Customs House, Peshawar.

Transit Trade (Peshawar) Director Amjadul Rehman, additional directors Jan Bahadur and Muhammad Tayyab, Deputy Director Inamullah Wazir, Frontier Customs Agents Association (FCAA) president, former SCCI SVP and FCCA senior vice president were also present on the occasion.   

Highlighting the issues faced by customs’ clearing agents and business community, Ziaul Haq Sarhadi apprised the meeting that nearly 7,000 transit trade containers/trucks were stuck due to slow clearing process at Karachi port, thus impacting Pak-Afghan bilateral and transit trade.

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He maintained that heavy charges are being collected from traders and exporters on the head of demurrage and detention at the Karachi port which has further pushed the lockdown-hit business community towards economic depression. He called for the immediate withdrawal of demurrage and detention charges to ease the financial woes of the traders’ community.

Sarhadi said that following the directives of Federal Board of Revenue, a 100pc examination of transit trade containers is being carried out at Karachi port, while additional checking of goods trucks also conducted at Torkham border, which, he attributed, as the main reason behind the slowdown of the mutual and transit trade with Afghanistan.

The FCCA president urged the authorities concerned to conduct only 5 per cent examination of containers at Karachi port to accelerate the bilateral and transit trade between the two neighbouring countries. He also stressed the need for installation of more scanning machines at the Karachi port and signing agreement with multiple companies for the tracker system.

He stressed that the clearing and checking process of transit trade containers/trucks should be expedited at Karachi port and Torkham border. He demanded to dismantle the illegal terminal at Matani near Bara, which should be run through customs authorities.

Furthermore, he asked to allow empty trucks and containers stuck on the Afghanistan side to move to the Torkham border to their final destination Karachi in order to overcome the trackers’ shortages issue at the port.

Sarhadi urged the federal government to withdraw SRO 121 and besides container cargo, the transportation of loose-cargo to Afghanistan would also be allowed, which can remove the monopoly of bonded carriers. He suggested the holding meeting of Pak-Afghan Joint Liaison Committee after two months.

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