EghtesadOnline: All trucks waiting behind Dogharoun border terminal in Khorasan Razavi Province will be allowed to cross the border and enter Afghanistan’s Islam Qala crossing in Herat Province, except for those carrying fuels (gasoline, liquefied petroleum gas and diesel), according to Rouhollah Latifi, the spokesperson of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration.
“A limited number of trucks carrying perishable goods [fruits and vegetables] were admitted by Islam Qala customs [as the border is called on the Afghan side of the crossing] on Thursday. As of Friday, all 2,000 trucks carrying commercial goods, from a total of 2,500 trucks grounded at the border following last Saturday’s explosion, will be permitted to cross the border and enter the neighboring country. The entry of new consignments into Dogharoun border terminal is still not allowed,” Latifi was quoted as saying by IRNA.
"Employees of Afghanistan’s Islam Qala customs facility have resumed work and one of the customs scales has again become operational to weigh the commercial cargos," he added.
According to Mohsen Jeddi, the head of Dogharoun border market, 1,800 tons of perishable goods were exported to Islam Qala customs by 52 trucks on Feb. 17-18.
Last week’s massive explosion ripped through a parking lot on the Afghan side of the border (Islam Qala crossing in Afghanistan’s western Herat Province), setting fire to at least 100 fuel tankers nearby.
Javad Hedayati, a senior official with Iran Road Maintenance and Transportation Organization, told ILNA that Mahiroud border crossing in South Khorasan Province and Milak border crossing in southeastern Sistan-Baluchestan Province [which is the main trade corridor between the two countries] would be readied for a surge of trucks and traffic.
ISNA reported an estimated loss of $50 million worth of goods and consignments in the catastrophe, but the head of Herat Chamber of Commerce Yunus Qazizada considered the losses to be twice that much.
Afghanistan is mostly dependent on imported goods from neighboring countries. Iranian officials believe that they will accelerate the customs process at other border crossings with Afghanistan.
Latest data show Iran exported $1.2 billion worth of non-oil goods to Afghanistan during the first eight months of the current fiscal year (March 20-Nov. 21).
Iron and steel bars had a major share of the exported products with 177,700 tons worth $70 million, Fars News Agency reported.
Iran also exported 798,100 tons of cement worth $21.4 million to the neighboring country during the period.
The fire was brought under control on Monday, after three days of efforts by firefighters of both countries, Afghan officials said.
At least 20 people were injured when the explosions set off a huge fire and engulfed many of the hundreds of trucks lined up at the Islam Qala crossing carrying natural gas and fuel on Saturday. The crossing, around 120 kilometers west of the city of Herat, the provincial capital, is a major transit route between Afghanistan and Iran, AP reported.
The inferno involved two explosions at the border crossing - powerful enough to be spotted from space by NASA satellites - with about half an hour between them. There has been no word so far as to what caused the explosion of the fuel tanker or the subsequent blast. The explosions shut down the power grid in the region, leaving Herat in the dark.
Wahid Qatali, the Herat provincial governor, said more than 2,000 vehicles at the site of the blaze were saved, including 1,500 that were rushed across the border into Iran to keep them away from the fire.
At the time of the blaze, the crossing point, which has a capacity of up to 700 oil trucks, had more than 2,500 trucks, said Qatali.
Typically, dozens of fuel tankers park on the Afghan side of the border while securing the permission to move between the two countries.