KARACHI, Jan 9: Supplies to Nato forces in Afghanistan through the country which were resumed in July last year after remaining blocked for seven months have come to a halt again because transporters want an end to the bonded carrier system of transportation and reject installation of trackers in their vehicles under new regulations of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).
Leaders of transport associations and hundreds of people associated with the business converged in Shireen Jinnah Colony and Mauripur -- two major parking areas of hundreds of oil tankers and container-laden trailers -- on Wednesday and held protests against the FBR regulations.
“About 500 trailers enter Afghanistan through Chaman and Torkham borders but they have not left because we have been on strike since Friday,” Haji Dil Khan Niazi of the All Pakistan Goods Transport Welfare Association said. “We approached everyone from President Zardari to the FBR chief, but to no avail. We have three major issues which need to be resolved at the earliest. Otherwise, the strike will continue.”
Under the bonded carrier system introduced more than three years ago, the transporters were not paid for extra services they offered to the primary supplier of the products and even their vehicles were not released and allowed to get other business for a certain period, he said.
“A major supply is due to get shipped by Jan 18 and we have been asked by the FBR to install trackers in the vehicles to ensure security of the goods. We can’t afford it and it’s much better to stop business instead of losing our own money in the name of business,” Mr Niazi said.
Hundreds of oil tankers and trailers started going to Afghanistan after a US ‘apology’ over the Salala attack that killed 23 soldiers and an army officer on Nov 26, 2011.
Although tanker operators have not joined the strike by transporters supplying food and military supplies to the Nato forces in Afghanistan, the fresh blockade has put a dent to the overall scope of the business.
The authorities, however, appear least worried. “We have not been conveyed any concern of the transporters,” FBR official Israr Rauf said.
“As far as installation of vehicle trackers is concerned one can hardly expect a compromise because it was agreed in a renewed accord even with Afghanistan.”
He said the FBR would hear the concerns and try of address them when it was informed about them but insisted that the new regulations had been introduced to make the system secure and their implementation was crucial.
The row has put the jobs of a large number of daily wage earners at risk.
“Each vehicle employs at least five people,” the transporters’ leader said, adding that the deadlock might cost over 40,000 people their jobs.