Pakistani bikes rev up their way to Afghan market

Published March 10, 2023
Afghan cargo trucks loaded with coal arrive in Pakistan at the Torkham border post.—AFP
Afghan cargo trucks loaded with coal arrive in Pakistan at the Torkham border post.—AFP

QUETTA/KARACHI: Afghan businessmen are importing Pakistan-assembled motorcycles in large numbers daily through the Chaman border amid booming demand for the two-wheelers in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Honda CG-125 bikes are unavailable at showrooms in Karachi as the market is facing price hikes and a shortage of motorcycles across the country, including Quetta and other cities of Balochistan.

“Customs department is allowing the export of motorcycles to Afghanistan after completing all legal formalities,” Dr Attaullah Barech, a spokesman for Pakistan Customs, Quetta Collectorate, told Dawn, adding that motorcycles are being exported to Afghanistan daily along with other goods.

He said that most of the Afghan traders were importing Honda CD-70 and CG-125 bikes which enjoy a big market in Afghanistan. “In the last two and half months, around 3,000 motorcycles were imported by Afghan traders through the Chaman border,” Dr Barech said, adding that Honda CD-70 has more demand than heavy motorcycles in the neighbouring country.

“I have cleared 2,340 Honda CD-70 and 590 CG-125 in the last two months,” Haji Imran Khan Kakar, a clearing agent working at the Pak-Afghan border, said. “They import motorcycles in parts and assemble them in Spine-Buldak and Kandahar,” he added.

However, sources in Chaman said a large number of old and new motorcycles are also being sent to Afghanistan through infrequent routes.

“Despite fencing of the border with Afghanistan, people manage to cross the border at both sides,” a trader in the border town told Dawn on condition of anonymity. “Around 40 to 50 motorcycles are being sent to Afghanistan through informal channels,” he said.

Motorcycles are available in the Quetta market but their prices have increased by more than 50 per cent. “We have enough stock of Pakistani motorcycles,” Mr Rasheed Shah, who runs a Honda motorcycle dealership in Quetta, said, adding that the sale of motorcycles of different brands has declined due to increasing prices.

He said many Honda bike dealers are doing this business in other cities and towns of Balochistan. “Mostly people who are involved in sending motorcycles to Afghanistan make purchases from bordering districts,” he added.

Shortage of bikes

In Karachi’s Akbar Road, the country’s biggest market for new and used motorcycles, Honda CG-125 bikes were not available at the showrooms of the company’s authorised dealers. “We are not taking any fresh bookings from the customers due to thin supplies from the assembler which might be facing parts shortage,” said one of the dealers.

Surprisingly, non-Honda dealers were seen demanding Rs252,000-255,000 (with Rs40,000 premium or on-money) for instant delivery of a CG-125 bike as against the company’s price of Rs215,000 even though the bike was not present at their showrooms.

Market sources said some unauthorised dealers had already lifted CG-125 motorcycles in large numbers from the authorised dealers under some kind of understanding to jointly make a windfall.

Some dealers said the Afghan nationals accompanied by Pakistanis had arrived in the market to purchase the 125cc bikes from the authorised showrooms due to which they had run out of stock.

However, 70cc bikes are easily available on instant delivery at the showrooms. Market sources said some local bike assemblers exported 25,000 units of 70cc-125cc bikes over the past 11 months in which Honda 125cc holds the lion’s share. They believe that the actual volume of shipments of two-wheelers is more than the official export by the companies after individual purchases of bikes by customers for Afghan markets.

Published in Dawn, March 10th, 2023

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