Fruit and vegetable exporters have suffered an estimated loss of around $1.5 million in a week because of the goods transporters’ strike, which entered its seventh consecutive day on Sunday. The government in its negotiations with the transporters on Saturday failed to convince them to call off their strike.
Around 1,400 containers carrying kinnows, potatoes and onions have not been able to reach the ports for their shipment abroad. The strike has severely affected commercial activities within the country as containers arriving from other countries are piling up at ports. Delivery of imported raw materials to factories has been affected, slowing down production.
“Our economy cannot afford a goods transport strike,” said Waheed Ahmed, the head of the Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Exporters Association. “The delay in the completion of export orders is likely to result in the cancellation of deals and new orders will be handed over to Indian exporters,” he added.
Ahmed pointed out that fruit and vegetables had a shelf life and had to reach buyers in time. “Containers filled with kinnows, potatoes and onions are just lying on roads with nobody transporting them to the ports.”
The association’s head demanded that the government should compensate the exporters for their losses. “The government should implement an axle load law in consultation with the stakeholders.”
In a statement issued on Wednesday, Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers and Exporters Association Chairman Jawed Bilwani said the strike was resulting in scarcity of transport vehicles and containers for the export-oriented industry, which was subsequently affecting shipments all over the country.
According to the PHMA chairman, Karachi ports handled about 9,827 containers daily, including 4,665 export containers and 5,162 import containers. He feared that if the strike was not called off, exports worth Rs10 billion (€58 mln) could be affected on a daily basis, which would be a major blow to the government’s goal of enhancing exports to narrow the trade gap.
Recently, the National Highway Authority (NHA), which operates under the Ministry of Communication, increased the fines 10 times for rules violation, said United Goods Transport Alliance Chairman Ghulam Yaseen. The authorities were also making changes in the axle load conditions from time to time, which should be settled once and for all, he stressed.