EghtesadOnline: All customs offices and exporters are advised against shipping goods via Dogharoun border terminal with Afghanistan in Khorasan Razavi Province until further notice, IRNA quoted Rouhollah Latifi, the spokesman of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration, as saying on Wednesday.
Noting that Afghan truck drivers, who suffered massive losses in a fire at Islam Qala customs office in February, have blocked Herat-Islam Qala in Afghanistan, the Iranian official said exporters are recommended not to send their commercial shipments to Dogharoun Customs Office to avoid crowds, hours-long delays and unexpected incidents.
“Afghanistan’s Abu Nasr Farahi customs [in Farah Province] officials have also imposed new restrictions regarding maximum load weight of the container trucks into Afghanistan through Mahiroud Border Terminal in South Khorasan Province. From now on, trucks crossing this border may weigh no more than 50 tons. The measure will reduce cross-border freight flow and lead to an increase of transshipment or transit operations. That calls for more cooperation between cargo owners and border officials,” he said.
A fuel tanker exploded in a parking lot on the Afghan side of the border (Islam Qala crossing in Afghanistan’s western Herat Province) on February 13, setting fire to at least 100 fuel tankers nearby.
The crossing was closed for a few days until the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration announced that all trucks waiting behind Dogharoun border terminal would be allowed to cross the border and enter Afghanistan’s Islam Qala crossing, except for those carrying fuels (gasoline, liquefied petroleum gas, and diesel).
Dogharoun terminal was not damaged by the fire at the border customs facility of the neighboring country, but due to the critical situation across the border and in order to prevent further losses, its activities were halted for a short period of time.
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 $50 million loss of goods and consignments in the catastrophe.
Yunus Qazizada, the head of Herat Chamber of Commerce, estimated the losses were twice that much.
The fire was brought under control after three days of efforts by firefighters from both countries, Afghan officials said.
At least 20 people were injured when the explosion that set off a huge fire that engulfed many of the hundreds of trucks lined up at the Islam Qala crossing carrying natural gas and fuel. 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 a half-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 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, was overcrowded with more than 2,500 trucks, said Qatali.
Typically, dozens upon dozens of fuel tankers park on the Afghan side of the border while securing permissions to move between the two countries.
Afghanistan is mostly dependent on imported goods from neighboring countries. Iranian officials have said that they will accelerate the custom 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.