By: Shukria Kohistani
Officials for Herat provincial chamber of commerce and industries are claiming that the main reason for increasing the price of construction materials in the province is lack of capacity for permission of importing goods in the custom and extortion and negligence of employees of the national standard authority in the province.
Provincial director of chamber of commerce and industries Younus Qazizada says based on increasing problems in Herat custom, Afghan traders cannot transit and load their importing goods from the custom on time as the price for transiting 1ton cement has increased from $20 – $60.
“The main reason that puts direct impact on increasing of the price of construction materials is the extortion and negligence of the norms and standard authority,” Qazizada said, adding that the norm and standard authority has always neglected in its work as corruption is a common business within the respective department.
On the other hand, officials for the norm and standard department were terming the accusations as baseless.
Qazizada is claiming that provincial department for chamber of commerce and industries is supporting the imports of quality construction materials, but the provincial department for norm and standard is creating problems for traders with the extortion and making them wait for days.
Nevertheless, head of the provincial norm and standard department Khyber Muthmir by rejecting the claim said that all operations of the department were being followed based on the law and no extortion has been taken from traders.
“The money we receive from Afghan traders importing construction materials is based on procedure of our department as decided in council of ministers,” Muthmir said, but accepting that tax on some construction materials is a little high.
He stressed that the issue has been shared with national norm and standard authority in Kabul and it was council of ministers having the authorization to specify the tax rather than the provincial norm and standard department.
A number of traders of construction materials have also expressed concern over increasing the price in the province, saying that after increasing 50 percent of the price of cement and other construction materials, construction work has slowed and even stopped in the province. They say that the price of one bag of cement has increased recently from 220 – 300 AFG.
Meanwhile, a number of people building their houses or towers in the province have expressed unhappiness about suddenly increasing the price of construction materials particularly cement, saying that they have stopped the construction process in the province as the price of most of key construction materials is so high.
Provincial director of chamber of commerce and industries Younus Qazizada considered reopening of Herat Cement Factory as the only solution of the mentioned problems, adding that a number of private companies are interested in investment in this sector in Herat.
He said that processing and getting license from the ministry of mines and petroleum were difficult and complicated as most of traders have been discouraged to invest.
It is worth mentioning that 200 trucks loaded with construction materials enter from Islam Qala to Herat on daily basis, but due to increasing of the price of construction materials, construction process has recently decreased in the province.