Afghan merchants fear for future as Taliban takeover raises costs

At Herat’s customs clearance centre this week, workers unloaded plastic bottle tops, plates, salt cakes and long-life cream cheese from trucks into warehouses in the midday heat.

The labourers told AFP that since the Taliban took control of the facility, their already-meagre wages have gone down, and sometimes they do not know if they will be paid at all.

Mir Allam, 70, sat with a group of fellow workers in the shade next to a truck after a shift.

“We did tough work but we got less money,” he said, revealing to AFP he had just been paid about US$1.25 for unloading a 20-tonne lorry with six others.

Another grey-bearded worker, who did not want to give his name, said that under the previous system he was paid immediately after unloading a truck.

“Now, when we have finished the work, it’s not clear if they will pay us or not.”


Younes Qazizadeh, head of the Herat Chamber of Commerce, said he was working with the merchants and the Taliban to reach a resolution, adding he believed business should never be related to any political system or regime.

“When any new regime comes to a country there will be some problems,” he said.

“People came here to speak their voices and they are lobbying the Taliban government to bring changes for the trade of Afghanistan,” he said.

“We also hope that these changes will come and it’s going to be much better.”

Herat’s deputy governor agreed there had been “some problems with the taxes”, but that a solution was being worked on.

“We wrote down the requests of some of those traders and we sent them to the finance ministry,” said Shir Ahmad Mohajer.

“They are going to send a delegation to Herat to listen to the traders, and we are going to act.”

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Author: Shirley