Joint Transport Company Proposal

PESHAWAR, December 26 (Dawn)

The government has proposed setting up a joint transport company with Pakistan to meet the growing demand of transit trade on both sides, official sources say.

A proposal to this effect was floated in the wake of shortage of railway wagons and vehicles to carry goods from Karachi seaport to across the border at the seventh session of Joint Economic Commission (JEC) held in Kabul last month, an official told Dawn.

Officials said that the transit trade dominated the two-day deliberations, which was convened to review trade and economic ties between the two countries, as the Afghanistan side raised a number of issues impeding the smooth movement of Goods in Transit to Afghanistan (GITA).

GITA, after reaching the Karachi seaport, are then carried by Pakistan Railways and trucks of National Logistics Cell (NLC) to Peshawar and Chaman for their subsequent shifting to different destinations inside Afghanistan. Due to geographical location Afghanistan largely depends on land routes of Pakistan to receive its imports.

It is worth mentioning that both the countries had also started bus service between Peshawar and border city of Jalalabad, the provincial capital of Nangarhar, some three years back, but it failed to produce the desired results.

The Afghan authorities also raised the entry of Afghan trucks inside Pakistan, saying the Afghan trucks are not allowed to transport the goods beyond Peshawar and Chaman and there is no reciprocity in this regard.

In response to the issues raised by the Afghanistan, the Pakistani officials explained that the Pakistan Railways’ performance on transportation of transit goods has improved, as transportation time span from Karachi to Peshawar has been reduced from 6.1 days to 5.5 days on the average and from six days to five days on the Karachi-Chaman link.

As alterative of aforementioned issues, Kabul proposed the establishment of a joint transport company to be run by the private sectors of the two countries to meet the requirement of transit trade on both sides, the official said.

In the meeting, the official said, both the side decided that the issue will be deliberated by the Joint Pakistan-Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce within the set framework. It was decided that both the governments would facilitate establishment of the transport company as and when required.