Torkham border crossing closure hits day six, stranding transit vehicles

The Torkham border crossing in Nangarhar province, east of Afghanistan.

The closure of the Torkham border crossing to transit vehicles reached its sixth day on Thursday, with no agreement yet to reopen the key border point. Thousands of vehicles remain stranded, awaiting permission to cross.

Drivers, running out of food and money, have urged authorities to resolve the impasse. A long queue of transit and commercial vehicles has formed on both sides of the crossing, with drivers facing severe hardships.

“There are many problems for us, there is neither water nor bread. We are facing many problems,” said Sadiq, one of the stranded drivers.

The delay is causing perishable goods like vegetables and fruits to rot, adding to the traders’ woes. The crossing’s closure stems from Pakistan’s requirement for Afghan drivers to have passports and visas, leading to a retaliatory measure by the Taliban, closing the crossing to commercial goods.

Driver Ayaz Gul expressed frustration over the visa demands. “They ask us for a visa at the Torkham crossing, and the visa is not sold in flower shops. Where should we get a visa? The distribution of passports is still closed, and many of us have expired passports,” he said.

With no clear information on when the crossing will reopen, drivers like Bahram are struggling with basic necessities. “We cannot perform prayers on time, there is no water, and we are dealing with many problems,” Bahram stated.

On the Pakistan side of the crossing, the Pakistan Transport Union has initiated a march demanding the swift reopening of the border. A union official called for a smooth resolution to the passport and visa issues to alleviate the plight of the affected people.

According to statistics from the Chamber of Commerce and Public Investment, around 3,000 containers carrying Afghan goods are currently halted on both sides of the Torkham crossing.