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Afghanistan Urges Tajik Officials To Rethink Transit Fee Increase

DUSHANBE -- The Afghan Foreign Ministry and the country's Chamber of Commerce and Industry have asked Tajikistan to reconsider its increase in transit tariffs for cargo bound for Afghanistan, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Umar Sahroy, an official representative at the Afghan Embassy in Tajikistan, told RFE/RL on April 11 that a unilateral and unexpected rise in the fee by Tajikistan's state railroad company has created problems for the transit of goods from Russia, Ukraine, and other former Soviet states to Afghanistan.

Sahroy said Afghanistan has been paying $12.45 for every ton of cargo transited through the 132 kilometers of Tajik railroad lines but that Tajikistan is now asking for $20 per ton.

He said that according to an interstate agreement between the two countries, Tajikistan had agreed to transit 2 million tons of cargo to Afghanistan at the lower price.

Tajik railroad officials have refused to comment on the issue.

Tajik economist Hojimuhammad Umarov told RFE/RL that only Afghanistan uses Tajik railroads for transit and if Tajikistan continues to raise its transport fees it will lose its business with Afghanistan.

He added that Afghanistan could use alternative railroad lines in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.