A new air corridor trade scheme between India and Afghanistan has got off to a turbulent start, according to a report from The Hindu.
Fresh produce consignments, including melons and apricots, were left to rot at Kabul airport earlier this month following the delay and cancellation of chartered services on the trade route.
Citing figures from the Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) and the Indian Embassy in Kabul, the report claimed only160 tonnes of cargo have been transported under the scheme.
Along with a lack of cargo planes, the report suggested a slow screening process and minimal cold storage facilities at Kabul airport have hampered trade.
Meanwhile, Indian traders have raised concerns about the length of time it takes to clear perishable goods through their customs department.
“We were told that all these procedural delays would be sorted out within a month of the corridor starting, but there are yet to be resolved,” Sayam Pasarlay, a spokesperson for ACCI, told The Hindu.
Government officials in both countries were adamant the trade route remained viable.
“Naturally the pilot air corridor project will go through some bumps before it becomes fully smooth,” Afghanistan’s Ambassador in Delhi Shaida Abdali told The Hindu.
“Currently, it is our fruits season and apart from some technical issues, there is a high demand for cargo (to other countries) and the Afghan government has been trying to catch up and added a private airline Kam Air to meet the demand together with Ariana Airlines.”