Afghanistan

Afghanistan: Food flow continues despite truckers' strike

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ISLAMABAD, 23 July (IRIN) - Aid workers do not fear any food shortages in southern Afghanistan despite the ongoing traders' strike that has affected the cross border movement of goods from Chaman in southwestern Pakistan to Kandahar in southern Afghanistan. Traders are protesting against the rise in transportation fares following a rise in government duties.
"At this moment our food transportation to southern Afghanistan is normal," Konjit Kidane, a logistical officer with the UN World Food Programme (WFP) told IRIN in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, on Tuesday. WFP had already transported 260 mt of food aid into Kandahar on Saturday with another such shipment underway on Tuesday, she explained.

Her comments follow a report by AFP on Monday that hinted to a possible food shortage in southern Afghanistan during the strike. "There is no strike and the traffic continues as normal," Haji Bahauddin, a deputy to the district administrator from the border district of Spin Boldak told IRIN. Some 150 trucks were loaded from Spin Boldak and left for different regions around Afghanistan on Monday, he added.

However, some traders boycotted the local truckers following a 15 percent increase in transportation costs after the district government fixed truck fares. "We believe the market should determine fares as is the case elsewhere in Afghanistan," Naseebullah, a leader of the protesting traders told IRIN.

A delegation of traders had discussed the issue with Spin Boldak's district administrator, Syed Fazluddin Agha. Later they will travel to Kandahar to take up the issue with the governor, Gul Agha Sherzai, who is also seen as the most influential warlord in south of the country.

Hundreds of thousands of displaced people depending on food aid for survival would be adversely affected by any prolonged break in the transportation chain to the region.

[ENDS]

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