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    Challenges in clearing reverse & empty Afghan Transit Trade containers at Torkham border terminal

    Challenges in clearing reverse & empty Afghan Transit Trade containers at Torkham border terminal

    PESHAWAR (APP): The efficient clearance of cargo at border terminals is crucial for smooth trade operations between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

    However, the slow clearance of reverse or empty Afghan Transit Trade (ATT) containers at the Torkham Border Terminal has become a significant concern.

    Official sources told APP on Thursday that the priority of vehicles arriving at the Torkham Border Terminal is currently solely decided and implemented by Afghan authorities. This allocation of priority has an impact on the movement of reverse or empty ATT trucks. 

    There have been repeated requests to Afghan Customs staff to facilitate the clearance of these trucks during the night, but progress has been limited.

     Despite challenges such as limited space, construction of the Integrated Transit Trade Management System (ITTMS), and landslide risks, the Torkham Border Terminal is operating at its maximum capacity. 

    The terminal handles approximately 450-500 inbound trucks on a daily basis, encompassing imports, reverse or empty Afghan Transit Trade containers and other cargo.

    Over the past five days, a substantial number of import and Afghan Transit Trade trucks have been cleared. These include both loaded and empty containers.

    Notably, a significant percentage of these cleared trucks have been empty ATT trucks. The numbers indicate the importance of streamlining the clearance of these empty containers to maintain trade flow. 

    The ongoing peak season for Afghan perishable goods, such as grapes, apricots, onions and tomatoes, adds complexity to the situation. 

    These perishables require immediate clearance due to rising temperatures that can lead to spoilage. 

    Additionally, these goods are essential for local consumption and any disruption in their clearance could contribute to inflation within cities. 

    Finding the right equilibrium is essential to avoid disruptions in trade and the local economy. 

    In light of the challenges mentioned, it is recommended that efforts be made to request Afghan authorities to prioritize the clearance of empty ATT containers, particularly during night time operations.

    This approach would contribute to smoother trade operations and efficient use of terminal capacity.

    While there is a push for increasing cargo clearance, it’s important to consider the potential trade-offs.

    Expanding clearance efforts could compromise the quality of cargo checks, potentially leading to an increased risk of smuggling contraband or unwanted materials.

    The slow clearance of reverse or empty Afghan Transit Trade containers at the Torkham Border Terminal presents a multifaceted challenge that requires a delicate balance between trade priorities, operational constraints and security considerations.

    By fostering collaboration between relevant stakeholders and prioritizing both trade efficiency and security, it is possible to address these challenges and enhance cross-border trade.

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