PESHAWAR - Chairman Standing Committee of Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) on Dry Port, Zia-ul-Haq Sarhadi Monday demanded construction of a new and well equipped dry port for Peshawar city.

In a press statement issued here, Sarhadi said the prevailing dry port in the provincial metropolis was unable to cater to the needs of business community due to lack of space and proper facilities.

Giving a background of different decisions taken for establishment of modern dry port in Peshawar, Sarhadi said in the '90s a decision was taken by the then Chief Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Mehtab Abbasi to make a new dry port at Azhakhel in Nowshera district and for that purpose 64 acres of land was selected besides reservation of Rs 20 million funds.

The project, he said, could not be completed by successive governments so the businessmen were suffering from lack of facilities at the port.

He said due to improper dry port and non-availability of locomotive, the trading community engaged in Afghan Transit Trade had to face expenses in the shape of high transportation charges while majority of Afghan traders had shifted their businesses from Karachi port to Chabahar and Bandar Abbas ports in Iran.

Zia-ul-Haq Sarhadi, who is also Director of Pak-Afghan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PAJCCI), said that 70 percent of business in Afghan Transit Trade had been diverted from Karachi ports.

He said Federal Board of Bureau (FBR) would soon issue a notification declaring Azhakhel Dry Port as a Custom Station and if Pakistan Railways completed its report in that regard on urgent basis, it would be beneficial for the country and business community as well.

The decision, he said, would benefit 370 Custom Clearing Agents and more than 10,000 businessmen associated with Afghan Transit Trade.

He also asked the government, to review the Afghan Transit Trade Agreement signed in 2010 for increasing bilateral trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The volume of bilateral trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan had dropped from 2.4 billion dollar to 1.2 billion dollar, Sarhadi claimed.