ACCI officials said the newly established railway route between Afghanistan and China stopped operating three months ago.
Railway Route From China Grinds To A Halt
Officials of Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) on Monday said the process of transferring goods to Afghanistan by rail from China stopped three months ago.
The rail route stopped after the Chinese company involved suspended its operations, the ACCI said.
But the Ministry of Commerce and Industries (MoCI) has expressed hope that with the signing of trade and transit agreements with Uzbekistan, Afghanistan will be able to remove obstacles in the way of its commercial relations with China regarding the railway line.
“Over the past three months we received no imported goods. When we consulted the companies, they pointed out the issues around transit facilities and the lack of infrastructure for loading and unloading and a subsidy issue,” said Atiqullah Nusrat, CEO of ACCI.
According to the ACCI, the lack of infrastructure at Hairatan Port was cited as one of the key reasons for the Chinese company suspending its operations.
But the ACCI said there was adequate capacity in place to load the wagons at the port.
Initially the Chinese government said it would subsidize a company to take responsibility of transporting goods to Afghanistan by rail. However, the company reportedly stopped its operations after the Chinese government suspended its subsidy.
“The work has been done on the draft package from Afghanistan's side, the draft has been sent to Uzbekistan, the agreement will be signed in the near future; maybe during the tour of the president to Uzbekistan or the trip of high level officials from Uzbekistan to Afghanistan. The transit agreement with Uzbekistan will help us to get connected to Kazakhstan and onward to China,” said Musafir Qoqandi, spokesman for the ministry of commerce and industries.
ACCI says that by road, goods take two months to get between China and Afghanistan but with the railway route the time is cut to only twelve days.
The ACCI has meanwhile called on government to step in and take steps to resolve the issue.
Last year the first Chinese cargo train arrived in the northern Afghan port city of Hairatan on the border with Uzbekistan. The move was part of an initiative Afghan officials in Kabul hoped would boost the national economy.