ISLAMABAD: As one of the top priorities, Pakistan has increased its focus on expanding regional trade, besides developing and strengthening economic relations with neighbouring and regional countries.
A senior official of the Finance Ministry told the media on Tuesday that the policies and strategies devised to achieve this objective included improving border crossing point infrastructure, equipment and procedures to reduce cargo dwell time, reduce cost of doing business and facilitate movement of people in a secure manner.
“Improving border crossing points are part of the strategy to develop more efficient transport corridors for robust economic activity,” he added.
However, he said that the current border crossing points were not fit enough because they could no longer process the current volumes of export, import and transit cargo and pedestrians.
“More than 1,300 trucks cross the Torkham border alone on a daily basis,” he said. The official said the cargo dwell times were long and commercial trucks and pedestrians suffered due to long queues that wasted time often in challenging climatic environments.
Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport, he said, was the busiest airport of the country as it handled around 20,000 passengers daily.
“A lot of people use Torkham border in peak hours daily. Ensuring security of the people and goods moving across the borders has become a challenging task,” he remarked.
The official said exploring the export markets of Central Asia, realising the dream of Pakistan becoming a regional transit hub, and exploiting the shortest sea routes for the land-locked countries were hampered by the dearth of suitable facilities at the borders.
Some estimates suggested that more than 70% of the travel time for moving cargo in the region was spent at the border crossing points, he observed.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2014.
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