PESHAWAR - Slow clearance of Afghan transit and export goods vehicles is caus­ing huge losses to traders as well as traffic issues in border areas, while authorities on Wednesday increased the number of trucks from 100 to 150 to cross the border into the neighbouring country on daily basis.

On May 1, the government of Pa­kistan had ordered the reopening of the Afghan borders at Torkham and Chaman five days a week to allow entry of 100 truckloads per day into Afghanistan. However, traders say the border should be opened 24/7.

District Police Officer Dr Muham­mad Iqbal told The Nation that on Wednesday, authorities started let­ting 150 trucks to cross the border into Afghanistan, although earlier 100 would be allowed.

He added that there were more than 2500 vehicles, both of exports and Afghan transit trade, stuck in Khyber district and waiting for clearance to cross the border.

“Around 700 vehicles are parked in Torkham, 250 trucks are stuck at National Logistics Cell in Jamrud tehsil and more than 1000 vehicles are parked at Takhtabaig checkpost today,” the official said.

He also said that the influx and parking of such a huge numbers of vehicles have created issues of traffic and security, which the police are try­ing to manage. Also, he said the export trucks, mostly containing food items, were risky as the food like vegetables perished and caused loss to traders.

He also said that the police are facing difficulties in implementing the anti-co­rona SOPs due to the huge numbers of vehicles parked in Khyber district.

Speaking to The Nation, Frontier Customs Agents Association KP pres­ident Ziaul Haq Sarhadi said that thousands of trucks were stuck at the Karachi port, which is causing mil­lions of rupees losses to the traders.

“The government should also al­low the import of products from Af­ghanistan,” he added. Sarhadi said that while Iran and other South Asian countries are trying to gain foothold in Afghanistan, the government of Pa­kistan should take measures to solve the issue of slow customs clearance.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Customs superintendent at Torkham bor­der Azeem Khan told this scribe by phone that due to coronavirus issue, each vehicle and driver, after clear­ance by customs staff, are subjected to precautionary measures against the contagion including spray at the border gate, which takes time.”

He added that customs officials clear a vehicle but later the NLC sub­jects the vehicles to SOPs and after that the vehicles are allowed by the Frontier Corps to cross the border.

He also said the movement of trucks at the border takes place be­tween 7am and 4pm only and it is not possible afterwards because of the Covid-19 issue.