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Hairatan, Aqina ports trade shrunk by 20pc due to insecurity

AT Monitoring Desk

KABUL: The deteriorating insecurity in northern zonehas left a negative impact on trade in northern Balkh province, triggering a 20 percent decline in commercial activities at Hairatan and Aqina dry ports.

Traders and their representatives say the Taliban also collect taxes from traders on the Mazar-Shiberghan, Mazar-Baghlan and Mazar-Dara Souf highways and they even stop commercial tankers and confiscate them.

ArashYounisi, the Balkh Chamber of Commerce director, said that trade activities shrunk by 20 percent at Hairatan and Aqina ports due to recent unrest in the north.

Bad security situation also affected investments in the north, including Balkh province, he said, adding “Taliban gunmen collect taxes from truck drivers on the Mazar-Shiberghan, Mazar-Baghlan and Mazar-Dara Souf roads on broad daylight and they also stop and seize commercial tankers on a daily basis.”

Younisi said traders were concerned about the situation and were trying to reduce their business activities, citing this as a reason behind the declined commercial affairs.

Younisi said he had shared the problem with officials in Kabul but no practical action had sofar been taken.

Mohammad Ibrahim Ghazanfar, a trader in Balkh, said that prices of goods also increased after the security situation worsened. He said prices soared in markets due to cut in imports.“When the Taliban collect taxes from traders on highways, it affects imports and increases prices in markets because most of the goods we need are imported.”

Ghazanfar said recent security problems had worried traders and the situation had widely affected the general public.

Another Balkh trader, BahktyarBakht, also said collection of taxes by militants on highways had affected business affairs, adding traders had to pay their taxes twice — once to the government and then to the Taliban. The government should take serious action for resolving this problem, Bakht added.

Balkh traders say Taliban charge each truck on the Mazar-Shiberghan highway 20,000 to 35,000 afghanis in tax.

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