Due to the outbreak of COVID 19, all cross border trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan was closed by the government earlier on March 2. After which all types of movement including export, cargo and transit trade, were facing and interruption. Later on, on April 5, the government resumed transit trade of goods for three days week, which then extended to a full week.
Still, 11071 containers were stranded at Karachi Port, waiting for permission to head towards the destination.
According to official statistics, more than 7321 containers were stuck at Karachi port that was Afghanistan bound, since both countries were holding up the exchange of goods as a precautionary step to prevent further spread of Coronavirus.
Other 3750 transit containers were left aground in route, or various custom stations resided on the borders after the provincial government closed them. 3128 of these containers were stranded at Torkham, and remaining 622 were stuck at Chaman.
As a customs official spoke about a significant increment in the cross border cargo to a newspaper, he stated that the number of container processing would go up to 800 containers per day. It shows that Karachi port marine traffic increases as well.
The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has taken measures to clear out the stranded containers from Karachi port and border stations and introduced a Karachi Port vessel schedule. These measures are not very welcomed by Afghan officials.
A senior Customs official stated that the measures had been devised to minimize Karachi Port marine traffic. The recommendations were made by the Speaker of the National Assembly Committee, Asad Qaiser.
The clearance strategy was planned after a meeting held between the officials of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Afghan officials have shown concern over the slow procedures that Pakistan has adopted to clear Afghan cargoes.
The strategy taken to process the movement of the container is that 30 containers will be weighed and scanned at NLC Terminal, in Jamrud. Further, their details will be forwarded.
Several other steps are also included to speed up the cargo clearance from Karachi Port to Afghan borders.
Containers resting at the border stations will be given priority, and they will enjoy the earliest departure. This way, congestion on en-route will reduce.
Food, medicines and other essential commodities will also be prioritized to dispatch early. Karachi port container tracking will help to keep watch on the containers for smooth transit without interruption.
In order to eliminate demurrage and processing costs, container pendency in Karachi ports would be reduced.
According to an estimate, nearly 2150 new Afghan cargo containers have arrived at Karachi port. But the officials have promised to clear up all the stuck cargoes from Karachi port in a couple of weeks. With the reference of the international export reports, “Pakistan has become one of the most expensive countries for transit trade.” Estimate, 70% of Afghan transit trade has shifted from Pakistan to Iran.
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