By: Shukria Kohistani
Officials for chamber of commerce and industries in Herat say the 3rd phase of Herat – Khawaf railway was opened nearly five months ago, but the railway has not been used since due to lack of equipment to load and unload goods and goods transit high price.
According to officials for chamber of commerce and industries, President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani both officially opened the Herat – Khawaf railway project via webinar in November 2020. Opening the 3rd phase of the railway was considered as good news for Afghan entrepreneurs including Faiz Ahmad Tatar, but unfortunately the railway has not been used since.
Faiz Mohammad Tatar, one of producers of fuel and water tankers at Herat Industrial Township, is anticipating the government to pave the way for imports and exports through the Herat-Khawaf railway.
“We’re transiting heavy metal via the railway through which custom processes take little time and cost less. It is good for us to compete, but the railway has not been used for the past five or six months,” Faiz Mohammad Tatar said.
He said that only 570 tons of goods were transited via the railway to Iran on the day it was opened.
Mohammad Rafi Rahmani, executive director for Herat’s chamber of commerce and industries says the first problem is the high cost for transiting goods through the railway as there is no any particular mechanism for goods’ cost in either side of the two countries. He also said that there was not any necessary infrastructure built for loading and unloading goods in Rozanag station. Afghan officials for chamber of commerce and industries say using the Herat – Khawaf railway depends on reduction in cost of the transit, adding that cost for transiting of goods through the railway is three fold of the cost of goods if transited by roads.
Provincial chairman of chamber of commerce and industries for Herat Sayed Danesh believs with using the Herat – Khawaf railway problem of in the field of maintaining raw material will be addressed at Herat Industrial Township.
“We have lots of problems in providing raw material at Herat Industrial Township as we have problem in ground transportation,” Danesh said, adding that the problem will be soon addressed when transit process begin through the Herat – Khawaf railway.
With passing four months from officially opening the Herat – Khawaf railway, only two times the goods-carrying trains have arrived in Herat. Local officials of Herat Railway Authority have confirmed that for transit of goods via the railway, there should be bilateral agreement between Afghanistan and Iran.
Khawaf-Herat railway is 225 km long and its operation is carried out in four parts. Parts one and two are 78 km long in Iran and from Khawaf city to the border in Khorasan Razavi province. Parts three and four of the railway are 147 km long in the Afghanistan soil from the border to Rozanag 62 km and from Rozanak to Herat 85 km, of which 140 km was put into operation months ago.
Development and strengthening of economic, social and cultural relations between Iran and Afghanistan by facilitating the export and import of goods and transport of passengers between the two countries, proper rail access of Afghanistan through Iran to other international areas including the southern open waters, Caucasus, Turkey, Iraq and Europe are among the goals of this national plan.